22 Nov 2010

Chevron’s “We Agree” – what’s the point, really?

Written by Jim Pierobon

Does it make sense for a major oil company to try casting itself far beyond its core business, especially if the subject of an ad campaign represents a miniscule % of gross revenues and earnings?

After BP tried to go “Beyond Petroleum,”  Chevron is increasing the stakes of its expensive “We Agree” bid to paint itself as a more engaged, sustainable and community-minded enterprise investing in renewable energy. (Disclosure: I worked on the “Beyond Petroleum” campaign while at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, BP’s agency at the time.)

On one hand “We Agree” is getting more attention that it otherwise would have received. But it places “We Agree” under a microscope. Chevron got a dose of its own medicine when the the “Yes Men,” Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch cross-examined what often comes across as a holier-than-thou message. Example below.

“When it comes to oil spills, climate change and human rights abuses, we need real action from Chevron,” the pranksters assert. “Instead, the oil giant has prioritized a high-priced glossy advertising campaign that attempts to trick the American people into believing it is different than BP.”

Chevron replied to The Washington Post that it is trying to conduct “a real conversation about energy issues and about finding common ground where we can move forward, and it’s disappointing that there are groups that are interested in attacking Chevron and not engaging in a rational conversation,” Morgan Crinklaw, a Chevron spokesman, said. Crinklaw said the stunts show “there are groups out there that are not interested in moving forward responsibly together.”

Beyond exposing the craftiness of the Yes Men, the Chevron spoof reveals how the Internet is becoming an effective forum for protesting. “Who wants to picket in the cold in front of a few hundred people when you can defile a company in front of millions from the comfort of your bedroom?,” commented “The Good Men Project.”

Once the dust settles on this, questions will remain, such as . . . .What will Chevron’s role be in answering them? What’s the next step in this “national conversation”?  . . . . unless Chevron would prefer to answer them now, here at TheEnergyFix.

Leave a Reply