Monday, December 17, 2012

Greenpeace's Consumer Powered Pressure Campaigns

Greenpeace is waging very effective pressure campaigns that reach out directly to customers. Greenpeace encourages their supporters to take direct action and voice their concerns. Greenpeace has come a long way from their beginnings in the early 70s; in addition to protests and demonstrations, they are now using digital technologies to widely disseminate their message. Social media figures prominently in the Greenpeace strategy. These Greenpeace campaigns co-opt the brand message of the companies they are targeting.

These efforts are clearly working as a wide assortment of companies have capitulated to Greenpeace's savvy digital campaigns. Through these campaigns a number of companies have been forced to adopt more responsible business practices. Brands monitor social media as closely as they monitor traditional media, and they cannot ignore the hundreds of thousands of people that like, share, comment on, or promote Greenpeace efforts. By amplifying the voices of ordinary people around the world Greenpeace is sending a powerful message.

This is truly a grassroots initiative as Greenpeace staff and activists all around the world are driving media production all without help from an outside marketing firm. This work is done by ardent foot soldiers who care passionately about the Greenpeace's environmental mission.

In addition to a wide assortment of clothing brands, Greenpeace has succeeded in pressuring a number of other companies including Trader Joe'sLego and Mattel.

Fashion Detox Campaign

On December 5th, Greenpeace launched its “Toxic Threads: Under Wraps” report. They have also posted a video about their Detox campaign and released a Detox Fashion Manifesto. Greenpeace's "Fashion Detox" pressure campaigns are changing the fashion industry one major brand at a time. Thus far a dozen clothing brands have bowed to Greenpeace pressure.

More than 400,000 people have joined the Detox campaign since they re-launched in November, demanding toxic-free fashion and clean water. Fashionistas, activists, designers and bloggers took action on Twitter and Weibo, spreading news about the industry’s toxic addiction and reaching many millions of friends and followers.

These efforts have resulted in changes at some of the biggest brands in the fashion industry. Through Greenpeace efforts these major fashion labels have agreed to reduce their environmental impacts.

Since the campaign started in 2011, the organization has convinced 11 clothing brands to commit to stop releasing toxic chemicals into the environment.

This campaign has succeeded in "detoxing" a dozen of the world's biggest clothing brands including Nike, H&M, Adidas, Puma, M&S, C&A, Li-Ning, Zara, Mango and Esprit and now Levi's.

Familiar brands like Calvin Klein, GAP and Victoria’s Secret are still being targeted by Greenpeace as part of their goal of exposing brands that use hazardous substances.

Levi's Campaign

The Levi’s campaing produced results after just eight days by creating a digital groundswell with more than 210,000 people calling on the company to Detox, and tens of thousands taking action on Facebook and Twitter.

Activists and volunteers also took to the street in over 20 countries to take the message directly to the brand’s customers and to speak with the staff working in their stores, who sent the message back to Levi’s HQ. Over 700 people protested outside Levi’s shop fronts in 80 cities around the world. One of the Greenpeace actions involved a demonstration at Levi headquarters in Mexico. Protestors created a foam river to symbolize the foam created in Mexico's rivers by Levi's toxic effluents.

Greenpeace also hosted a screening of a documentary about a family struggling to hold factories in the region to account for the pollution they are causing, including suppliers of brands like Levi’s.

Greenpeace co-opted Levi's own marketing language with the Twitter hashtags "#GoForth and #Detox!".

Waitrose Campaign

As the campaign against Waitrose demonstrated, company's are being held accountable not only for their own business practices but they are also being taken to task for who they do business with. Waitrose opened two pilot store in shell stations but after only 12 days of Greenpeace protests they were forced to abandon expansion plans.

The Greenpeace campaign targeting Waitrose campaign featured a “social media meltdown,” they garnered 40,000 emails, posted a video spoof on YouTube, and collected hundreds of angry Facebook posts. Over the summer Greenpeace created a social media response team that co-opted Shell's logo and branding. This initiative included a hoax Shell web site,, which criticized the company’s plans to drill in the Arctic.

At the London store in Islington they featured a life-size polar bear representing the threat posed to local fauna by Shell's Arctic drilling.

Companies that fail to take responsibility for the pollution created along their entire supply chain are increasingly exposed. The rising tide of people power is changing the face of business and companies are being forced to recognize and act upon these popular consumer driven campaigns.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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