Shell's PR Circus
Insane PR Circus Rocks Holland—But It's Not that Polar Bear Thing
Hoax involves Dutch, Pamela Anderson and New Zealand Zoo
What seemed to be a cruel and bizarre PR campaign took over Amsterdam yesterday as a barge with an apparently drugged polar bear, a Russian child superstar, and a colorful marching band wound through Amsterdam's canals to the city zoo. There, visitors and staff watched Gazprom and Shell reps officiously give the bear to Amsterdam—before being forcibly removed by zoo security and city police.
A flurry of public speculation rippled through Dutch TV and online media: What could it mean? Who could have done this? Has Shell gone mad?
Shortly thereafter, a companion website appeared at Polar-Partners.com, just in time for Twitter to burst into flames with revelations that "Gazprom" was illegally using music in the PR event's publicity video. Pamela Anderson, Dawn Olivieri, Adam McKay, Occupy Wall Street, and various other celebs joined in the fracas, cumulatively reaching millions of fans.
Making things weirder, New Zealand's Auckland Zoo felt compelled to assert that it would not be receiving a bear through Gazprom's Adopt-a-Bear program. And when grainy bear cruelty photos popped up, the whole thing began to gain its own weird momentum.
"Our polar bear circus was absolutely insane, but not half as insane as Gazprom and Shell's Arctic deal," said James Turner of Greenpeace International. "They want to exploit melting sea ice to drill for more oil. Shell screwed up badly in Alaska last year, so they're taking advantage of Russia's weaker regulations to take huge risks over there instead."
"It's a national embarrassment that the most famous Dutch company is teaming up with one of the world's most notoriously corrupt state-owned corporations," said Dutch activist and Yes Lab volunteer Richelle Dumond. "Shell used to have standards, didn't they?"
"Gazprom made it very easy for us," said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. "Their actual PR is extremely inspiring."
"If you want a good laugh, just take a look at what Gazprom writes about reindeer, birds and salmon for their 'Year of Ecology' page," said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men.
"Not to mention launching a USB key with animal jpegs into outer space," said Sean Devlin of the Yes Lab. "Now that's inspiring."
"Gazprom and Shell's real PR stunt is persuading the world that they're not responsible for the collapse of our ecosystems, and that they can be trusted to drill safely in the Arctic," said Turner. "But now over 3.5 million people are ready to bust the hoax."
The project was a collaboration between the Yes Lab, Greenpeace International and Russian activists forced to live abroad.
CONTACT: James Turner (Greenpeace International), Andy Bichlbaum (Yes Lab)