NEW YORK - Chevron Corp launched
a new advertising campaign on Monday to address negative
perceptions of big oil companies, but a bogus release and
website by activist hoaxers and an environmental group quickly
sought to turn the tables on the company.
Chevron announced its "We Agree" print and video campaign,
designed to highlight its efforts to develop renewable energy,
create jobs and support local communities.
But a hoax press release sent to media outlets by the Yes
Men and the Rainforest Action Network hours ahead of the
Chevron release, complete with fake quotes from Chevron
executives and ersatz Chevron website, sought to point a finger
at the company's environmental controversies.
One of the spoof adds read "Oil companies should fix the
problems they create," stamped with "We agree" in red ink.
That mimics authentic Chevron-created ads that have that
slogan stamped on posters bearing phrases such as "Oil
companies need to get real."
The Yes Men have become notorious in recent years for their
stunts in posing as representatives from companies such as Dow
Chemical Co, Exxon Mobil Corp and Halliburton
Chevron is currently fighting a $27 billion lawsuit in
Ecuador dating back 18 years that contends Texaco, which
Chevron bought, caused significant environmental damage in the
Amazon through faulty drilling techniques.
Chevron has said Texaco repaired damage in all areas of the
jungle for which it was responsible, that the courts in Ecuador
have been biased and that plaintiffs lawyers have engaged in
misconduct. A verdict in the case could come in the next few
A spokesman for the oil company said the hoax ad campaign
would not detract from its media strategy.
"The idea of the campaign is to identify issues that people
have with oil companies and find issues where we can have
common ground," Chevron spokesman Morgan Crinklaw said.
Maria Ramos of the Rainforest Action Network said the group
was tipped by a blogger about the media campaign a few weeks
ago, and it sought to use the event to highlight issues such as
pollution, climate change and human rights.
"Instead, the oil giant has prioritized this high-priced
glossy ad campaign that attempts to trick us into believing it
is of the people, for the people," Ramos said. "Just because it
says so in the ad doesn't mean its true."
(Reporting by Matt Daily, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)