By Andy Bichlbaum on Apr 28 2011 - 4:24pm Tagged: reveal release, Chicago, coal plants, Midwest Generation Project: Coal for the Rich

April 28, 2011

Lindsey Dietzler, 773.554.0085,
The Yes Lab,

New Coal Plant in the South Loop? Not So Much.
Elaborate Stunt Draws Attention to Need for Cleaner Energy Sources, and Midwest Gen’s Dirty Record in Chicago

Chicago, IL- Residents of the South Loop neighborhood were outraged yesterday to hear that Midwest Generation was purportedly building a new coal powered plant on a formerly abandoned lot at Harrison and Wells. The company, promising a plant with “a green roof,” even blanketed the neighborhood with fliers and pamphlets, advising residents that “construction and operation of the new plant will generate new revenue for local businesses.” Brochures, letters, warnings from the city, and solicitations from a legal firm were all part of a day's reading for the residents of the well heeled neighborhood, and they were not amused, flocking online to register their complaints.

“This is not an industrial neighborhood and shouldn't be treated as such,” said Yelp user Michelle in an angry post. “This is horrible, and Alderman Fioretti and others need to step up to stop this from happening.”

Environmental activists quickly mobilized as well, and an ad hoc group called Citizens United Against Loop Coal (CUALC) even staged an impromptu protest against the proposed site on Wednesday afternoon.

“Midwest Generation has already fouled up enough Chicago neighborhoods,” said Susan Miller, a member of the CUALC protest group. “The last thing Chicago needs is more coal plants polluting our air and giving our kids asthma."

The plans, which were reported on by WBEZ and the Huffington Post, were quickly denounced by Midwestern Generation and 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti as an elaborate hoax.

They were right.

The entire spectacle was pulled together by local activists—also calling themselves CUALC, for Citizens United Against Lower-Income-Neighborhood Coal—in collaboration with the Yes Lab, a project of The Yes Men to help activist groups carry out media-savvy creative actions on their own. The goal was to raise awareness about the need for clean energy sources and push for the Clean Power Ordinance. Unfortunately dirty coal’s impact on Chicagoans’ health is no laughing matter.

Midwest Generation’s two Chicago plants, Crawford and Fisk, are located in the predominately low-income neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village. Residents in these neighborhoods experience higher levels of lung cancer, heart attacks, premature deaths, acute and chronic bronchitis, emergency room visits, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. As a result Chicago has one of the highest asthma rates in the entire country, and the plants also contribute to global warming, spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year.

“Cleaner energy sources are readily available and should be implemented all over the world for the health of our planet and its inhabitants. It is obscene that coal-fired generating stations should go on operating,” said Lindsey Dietzler, a local activist who helped pull off the sophisticated plan. “That’s why we need the City Council to pass the Clean Power Ordinance and force the Fisk and Crawford plants to lower their emissions.”

The ruse, intended to spark interest and outrage about the existence of coal-fired plants in two of Chicago’s less affluent neighborhoods, involved a fake Midwest Generation website and a brochure and letter to residents allegedly from the company, distributed to the homes of Loop residents, extolling the benefits of the generating station and downplaying the possible disruption to the neighborhood. This was followed by a letter that appeared to be from the city’s Public Health Department suggesting that residents be alert for any changes in their health and explaining the pollutants emitted by coal-fired plants, as well as a solicitation from a faux law firm seeking potential claimants in a class-action law suit. Even those who turned out to Wednesday’s “protest” were in on the act.

“Midwest Generation is a powerful company, lobbying hard against the Clean Power Ordinance, even filling the hearing last week with employees to drown out the voices of those affected most by the plants,” said Dietzler. “We needed to create a little controversy to draw attention to the fact that Midwest Generation is polluting our city and poisoning its residents.”

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Apr 13 2011 - 12:35pm Tagged: US Uncut, GE, taxes, corporate assholes, reveal release

April 13, 2011

Duncan Meisel 512-657-9124
Carl Gibson 601-454-6443
The Yes Lab

GE Returns Billions to Public... NOT
USA Today, AP fall for US Uncut ploy; GE stock loses billions

Washington, DC - US Uncut, a burgeoning grassroots movement pressuring corporate tax cheats to pay their fair share, posted today a fake GE press release announcing that they would return their illegitimate (but legal) $3.2 billion tax refund, and that they would lobby to close the sort of corporate tax loopholes that had allowed them to skip taxes in the first place. Several major media outlets, including USA Today, ran the story as true. (Here is a link to the original USA Today story; here is the first article debunking the release.)

US Uncut quickly reacted with another release pretending to praise GE for this entirely unpredictable, unlikely, and in fact impossible act.

"At a time when working families are being asked to accept massive cuts nationwide, this action showed another way the world could work," said US Uncut spokesperson Carl Gibson. "For a brief moment people believed that the biggest corporate tax dodger had a change of heart and actually did the right thing. But the only way anything like this is really going to happen is if we change the laws that allow corporate tax avoidance in the first place."

In the period the hoax was believed, GE's stock plunged by .6% (far more than the value of the supposed return), then quickly recovered as soon as it became apparent the press had been duped. "Obviously, GE can't possibly be expected to do the right thing voluntarily; their stock would keep plunging," noted Gibson. "That's why we must change the law."

"GE's tax avoidance is unpatriotic, it's undemocratic, it's unfair," said Andrew Boyd, a US Uncut spokesperson. "It might be legal, but that's only because GE has used its money and lobbying influence to buy the loopholes they're now taking advantage of."

US Uncut developed the project with help from the Yes Lab (


About US Uncut

US Uncut, a grassroots movement organized through social media, connects corporate tax cheating to cuts in valuable public services. The group has lead over 100 actions nationwide against corporations who do not pay their fair share in taxes, bringing protests directly to the front door of corporate retail stores. US Uncut will hold more than 80 such events over the course of the upcoming Tax Day weekend.

"Billionaire corporations profit from the system of public services set-up by the government. It only makes sense for them to pay their fair share, just like everyone else," said Gibson. "No corporation is an island, even if they hide all their profits in tropical tax havens."

"While we all pay our taxes this weekend, Congress just passed the largest spending cuts in US history, much of it to social programs and investments for our country's future," said US Uncut DC organizer George Taghi, "Instead of slashing public services like Head Start and Pell Grants, why not go after corporations who don't bother to pay any taxes at all?"

Composed of self-organized citizens through social media, including Facebook and Twitter, the magnetic message of US Uncut has spread like populist wildfire. Anger is rising as Americans are being forced to endure brutal cuts at both the federal and state-level, for a budget crisis they did not cause. Over $100 billion estimated annually could be gained, if corporations ended practices of tax avoidance.

"Billionaire corporations have already abandoned America for foreign tax havens," said US Uncut spokesperson Ryan Clayton, "They pay zero income taxes here, hold their profits in international banks, and ship millions of American jobs overseas. That is un-American."

For more information, please visit
For time & locations of all the upcoming actions:

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Mar 16 2011 - 12:46pm Tagged: Enbridge, Forest Ethics, pipeline, oil, reveal release Project: My Hair Cares

March 15, 2011

Group responsible offers free haircuts at Enbridge HQ at noon

Earlier today, the world learned of oil transport giant Enbridge’s strategy for handling inevitable oil spills along its proposed pipeline through pristine British Columbian wilderness: mop it up with human hair.

The cockamamie “MyHairCares” hoax, dreamed up by former oil workers and involving outreach to over 1000 hair salons, was promoted in a slick Video News Release and involved a flurry of conflicting press releases. The original story ran in a number of major news outlets (archive will be posted shortly here), but was pulled with no retraction or explanation after a terse denial by Enbridge that seemed to miss the point entirely. (For a longer, better denial, written on behalf of Enbridge by the pranksters, click here.)

“This was a funny way to dramatize the fact that neither Enbridge nor any other oil company can prevent spills, and that they basically have no cleanup plan,” said Shannon McPhail, a former Canadian oil worker and Canadian spokesperson for People Enbridge Ruined in Michigan (PERM), the group responsible for MyHairCares. “What's happening in Michigan proves that.”

Between 1999 and 2008 Enbridge recorded an average of more than one oil spill every week. Just last summer, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River. Enbridge is expected to face federal criminal charges for neglecting to maintain that pipeline; they are also accused of merely covering up, not actually cleaning up the oil. Further, a joint investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and CBS News found that Enbridge was coercing Kalamazoo spill victims into signing liability waiver forms. “Enbridge is manipulating and exploiting people who trust the company to do the right thing,” said former US Congressman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., Chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

“We don’t want Canadian rivers or coastlines to end up like the oily mess that Enbridge has left in a number of places around here,” said US PERM spokesperson Rick Smith.

“In the U.S. Enbridge failed to maintain their pipeline, failed to clean up their mess, and are exploiting the victims,” said McPhail. “It would be madness to let them build a pipeline in Canada, especially through one of our planet’s last great wildernesses.”

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline would cut across the Rocky Mountains, the pristine Great Bear rain forest, and over 1,000 streams and rivers. The pipeline would carry 700,000 barrels a day of petroleum products across 1,170 kilometres between Alberta’s Tar Sands and the Pacific Coast, where supertankers would carry the crude though the treacherous Douglas Channel—an area in which currents render conventional oil containment booms useless.

“A major spill on the coast or in a river would be devastating and irreversible,” said McPhail. “Canada must not trade in our wilderness just to make some foreign oil companies rich.”

One salon owner contacted after the ruse lauded the activists’ approach to getting the media to pay attention to one of the most pressing environmental issues in North America. "I wasn't tricked, I was educated,” said Brian Phillips, owner of World Salon in Toronto. “I had no idea what the people in Michigan were going through with Enbridge. We shouldn’t invite that treatment here in Canada.”

People Enbridge Ruined In Michigan (PERM) cooked up the “My Hair Cares” action with guidance from The Yes Men, as part of the Yes Lab for Creative Activism. Tomorrow, Canadian members of PERM will introduce themselves to the public during a noon press conference in front of Enbridge’s Vancouver offices. Free haircuts will available for all, and all clippings collected then (as well as any clippings mailed in by salons) will be donated to Michigan PERM members still struggling to clean up Enbridge’s mess in their community.

“Enbridge spends millions trying to convince people there's no problem,” noted McPhail. “We had to be a bit clever to compete with that.”

FREE HAIRCUTS: 12 noon PST, 505 Burrard St., Vancouver, CA


Shannon McPhail (Smithers, BC), Canadian PERM spokesperson, 250-842-2494,
Rick Smith (Michigan), US PERM spokesperson: 269-425-1822,
Sean Devlin (Vancouver) , The Yes Lab: 778.321.7306,

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Dec 18 2010 - 9:04am Tagged: Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

Do you live in the United States? Would you like to lead a postering team in your community, to wheat-paste some of these posters all over the place?

As you're probably aware, Chevron has been doing everything it can to avoid justice in Ecuador. They imagine they can cover up their crimes with slick PR campaigns. We think spreading these much-improved posters, making them visible on the street to the public at large (not just on the internet), could be one small step towards building the public pressure needed to force Chevron to compensate their many victims.

If you'd like to lead a postering team (and leaders is what it'll need, if it's to happen), please write to by January 15th, and Linda from RAN will follow up with you directly. In your email, we'd love it if you could answer these questions:

  1. Have you organized folks before? If so, tell us about it. If not, that's okay, Linda will be more than happy to help you get going.
  2. Why do you want to lead activists in your community?
  3. Why do you want to get involved in this or other campaigns?
  4. Where do you live?

Also, please feel free to email with any questions, or call Linda at 415-659-0534.

Postering is only the very first step. This campaign will need to do a whole lot in the months ahead, and we'll need leaders to make that happen. Also, this step will help us identify potential leaders for future Yes Lab projects. Please consider becoming one!

It's really important that Chevron be held accountable for its pollution in Ecuador - that will send a message to all big corporations that they can no longer poison communities with impunity.

Your friends at the Yes Men and RAN

Note: This is mainly for folks who live in the U.S., where Chevron is from. If you live in a big city, RAN or the Yes Men will be able to send you local folks for street teams. If you live in a small town and want to be a leader, you should email anyhow - there's still a way. If you live in the countryside or the wilderness, well... we're jealous!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 9 2010 - 10:36am Tagged: Chevron, oil, climate change, RAN, wheatpaste Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

After Chevron's PR disaster, RAN, AmazonWatch and the Yes Lab decided to push it further, and enlist the public's help in making sure Chevron couldn't sweep Ecuador under their greenwashed rug. The result?

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 9 2010 - 12:00am Tagged: Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

You’re hired! We’ve decided that you have all the skills required to make sure Chevron’s “We Agree” ad campaign is well and truly wrecked.

Here's your mission. You may have seen the 155 amazing, hilarious “We Agree” posters, that have gotten far more play in the news and online that Chevron’s own deranged ads. (If you haven’t submitted your own, there’s still time!)

It’s now time to take this a whole lot further, and wheat-paste your favorites everywhere. Everyone needs to wonder: “What's this whole Chevron thing about, anyhow?”

Click here for full instructions. We know this is a tall order, but as you know, it's important. And if one eight-foot giant could take over the world, surely all of us can! (Incidentally, there are awesome prizes for those who wheat-paste the most copies, as well as for those who figure out the coolest places to put up an ad.)

If nocturnal stealth and derring-do aren’t your style, here’s another way you can mess with Chevron, right from the comfort of your own home, or during your coffee break:

  • Call or email Chevron. (See below. When you find other numbers that don't go to voicemail, please send them and we'll update this page!) Make sure to record your call.
    • Chevron switchboard: 1-925-842-1000 or 1-925-218-3825.
    • CEO Watson's secretary: 1-925-842-3232.
    • CEO Watson's email:
  • Send us your phone conversation or email correspondence. There will be prizes for different categories of funny: funny repartee, most heated funny, funny confusion, nonsensical funny, and longest exchange.
  • The main point is to make something funny that people will share around widely. (It's also great to occupy a bunch of Chevron's time.) Here are just a few ideas foropeners for phone calls or emails, to get your creative juices flowing:
    • “Hello Chevron, I’m a big shareholder. I saw your ad campaign plastered all over downtown, and I think it’s misguided. People don’t like Darth Vader, or chainsaw murder, or messing up foreign countries. Why would you brag about that?”
    • “Dear Chevron: Your usage of the ‘Gollum’ character is an infringement of the rights of New Line Cinema. We hereby demand that you cease and desist from any and all misleading P.R. operations that involve the use of ‘Gollum’ or related trademarks. Yours truly, GreenbergTraurig, LLP”
    • “Hi Chevron, I’m a 94-year-old grandmother from Plano, Texas, and I just wanted to say I don’t think your Hitler ad is really appropriate for small children.”
    • “Dear Chevron: We commend you on your compassionate visual treatment of sea fowl. We can haz, indeed. Thanks.”
    • “Hey Chevron! I love your new ad campaign. Would you consider making a ‘We Agree’ poster for [insert issue here]?”
    • “My dearest Chevron: My church, acting as one, wish to commend you on your wonderful ad, ‘Oil Companies Should End The Wars They Helped Start.’ Your sentiment is noble, and the ad itself so very well conceived. May God bless you all.”
    • “Dear Chevron, Thank you for pointing out that bicycles are no panacea. It is also very smart to point out that wind power has a few drawbacks. Best, Alternative Energy Watch, San Ramon Chapter”
    • “Chevron: We wish to commend you for noting that although it is difficult to prove that God does not exist, this does not, nevertheless, prove that God does. You have some new fans at the Tuscaloosa County Atheist Association.”
    • “Yo Chevron. As a longtime shareholder, I am appalled that you would equate money with the proverbial ‘middle finger’ expression.”
    • “Dear Chevron: Your endorsement of Sarah Palin for President in 2012 does not fall on deaf ears. Just as Palin sees much from her windows, so we see Palin from ours. Best, Wasilla County GOP”
    • “Chevron: I think your ad, ‘Corporate tanks stop for no one,’ sends the wrong message. That Chinese tank actually did stop for the man in the photo, at least briefly.”

Anyhow, you get the idea... Whether you choose to mess with Chevron in the streets or from your phone, let us know how it goes!


Note: With the newly-launched Yes Lab, the Yes Men are helping a number of activist groups launch projects around crucial issues. Soon, this will mean a lot more opportunities for you to be involved—whether locally, in a specific cool action in your city, or by joining forces with thousands of others in all kinds of different places to do something fun and important, like this. To make sure you get the right messages, please take a moment to update your profile at

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 8 2010 - 10:56pm Tagged: Chevron, wheatpaste, RAN Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

It's very simple, really - just go out and wheat-paste those improved Chevron ads wherever you can, and try to take pictures of each. Contest ends December 1, but we hope you keep it up indefinitely. (See also this for another, easier contest.)

Here's how it works, in more detail:

  • Look at these ads: (See this for how this all came about.)
  • Choose your favorite printable ones (with a little printer icon), and download and print, at any size and in any quantity. (You can of course make new ads instead of downloading ones that exist. Make sure to submit them to the contest if you do! If you’ve already submitted and you can send a higher-res version, please email it to us!)
  • Go wheat-paste them up as far and wide as you can, and in as many cool locations as possible - see below. (Instructions on how to make and use wheat-paste can be found really easily:
  • Points will be awarded by size and by coolness:
    • Larger sizes will get more points. Stickers will get 1-2 points, 8.5”x11” sheets will get 3 points, billboards will get a huge number of points, etc.
    • Cool locations will get more points. Like, if you manage to get an ad onto each pump at a Chevron gas station, or onto a podium while some oil industry wonk is holding forth, or onto the back of a real Chevron manager’s suit jacket while he’s not looking, or onto a board member’s house, or... you get the idea. But just getting them under a bridge is great too! (You might want to videotape your action - it might just make it into our next film, which is about shit like this.)
    • Try to get an ad printed in your local paper - that counts as a really cool location! The sky’s the limit.
  • Try to take a snapshot of each poster after you’ve pasted it up. Then:

Now get to it!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 27 2010 - 3:45pm Tagged: Chevron, PR, Winning, reveal release Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

October 27, 2010

Chevron “We Agree” Leaks Revealed
Activists ramp up fight against Chevron “greenwashing” with posters, videos, billboard alterations, etc.

Environmental and human rights activists have revealed the various leaks that permitted them to wreck the recent launch of Chevron's ultra-expensive new "We Agree" ad campaign. The revelations came with the announcement of a new print and video contest that, for a few dollars, continues the fight against Chevron's mega-millions in a no-holds-barred PR smackdown. (One video, submitted by the comedy troupe Funny or Die, is already cracking up online legions, as are a large number of print submissions. An upcoming billboard alteration contest promises to up the ante yet further.)

Chevron's plan for the “We Agree” offensive was first leaked to Amazon Watch over a month ago, when ecologist blogger Lauren Selman received a casting call to appear in one of Chevron's new split-screen television ads. Selman used the information she gathered to help Amazon Watch, the Rainforest Action Network, and the Yes Men pre-empt Chevron's insulting PR campaign. (Read Selman's blog post here.)

Another leak came shortly after, when Chevron's ad agency, McGarryBowen, asked DC street artist César Maxit if he could help wheat-paste the new Chevron posters. Instead, Maxit sent the Chevron files to the Rainforest Action Network and helped build their campaign. (See video here.)

The activists' continuing efforts are ensuring that Chevron's PR strategy backfires severely, as media continues to highlight Chevron's poor environmental and human rights record. That's exactly the point, say the activists: to raise public awareness around Chevron's abuses in Ecuador and elsewhere, and ultimately force Chevron to do something about them.

Coming soon: a billboard alteration kit for making Chevron's real-world “We Agree” ads better, an automagical “We Agree” poster generator, online resources for producing video parodies, and more! The contest will end in late November, and voting on entries will begin next week. Very special prizes will soon be announced.

Ginger Cassady, Rainforest Action Network,, (415) 640-7155
Han Shan, Amazon Watch,, (917) 418-4133
The Yes Men,

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 20 2010 - 12:00am Tagged: Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

Note: this contest is open not only to print and web ads, but to TV PIECES as well, and to on-site billboard alterations too.

If you have video skills, study Chevron's TV ad campaign, and improve! Send us your results, post them somewhere and twitter it out with #weagree. Same with billboard alterations!

Thanks to all who have submitted print ads so far! We've been getting some great ones. Keep 'em coming, and make sure to twitter with #weagree. Entries will be posted next week.

If you saw our last press release, you'll know that in the last few days we have been working with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Amazon Watch on a campaign that spoofs Chevron's idiotic new greenwashing campaign. It's been working: search on Chevron in the news and all you get is our spoof. $50 million spent to keep our eyes off Chevron's dirt... and it all just went down the drain!

Now it's time to make sure that "the era of greenwashing is over," as The Atlantic says, flatteringly but over-optimistically - by making sure the laughter doesn't stop.

If you're game, study Chevron's real "We Agree" campaign (the print version you can see in newspapers and soon on bus shelters, etc., and also on the web and on TV). Figure out the funniest mashups, image swaps, collages, rewrites, or remixes of their print, web, and/or TV productions. Mock them up, paste them up, post them up and send them on to (by email, via a yousendit-type program, or what have you)! We'll put them on a new website next week and get that out to the press.

(New!) We're also calling for alterations of any “We Agree” ads in public places. If you see a “We Agree” poster or billboard, alter it and send us the photograph. Best alteration wins a prize! Also, help us create a “billboard alteration kit”—a readymade cut-out kit that users can simply download, print out, and go to work with.

And make sure to post whatever you do to your Facebook, and twitpic them with the hashtag #weagree. If you can, wheatpaste your posters around town, and twitpic photos of them with the same hashtag (#weagree).

The best ad gets a big prize, the best picture of an in-situ Chevron ad gets another, and I'm sure we'll be coming up with some other categories.

You might find this psd useful:
Also, you’ll need this font:
These files are compressed together here.

Have fun!
The Yes Men

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