Early this morning, Greenpeace mounted a satirical billboard near Shell’s Houston headquarters featuring a family of polar bears branded with the slogan “You can’t run your SUV on cute. Let’s Go.”
We chose this ad from the over 10,000 user-generated online submissions to ArcticReady.com, a web collaboration with Yes Lab designed to heighten awareness of Shell’s plan to exploit melting sea ice to drill for oil in Alaska. The site has been up for a month, but as the drill window has come closer users have flocked to the site, registering nearly 2 million pageviews in the past week.
The site’s users have turned it into a global phenomenon (the Sydney Morning Herald called it “social media oil spill”), and after watching the traffic balloon to epic proportions, we decided it was time to say, “Thanks.” This Houston billboard was our way of taking such terrific online activism and placing it in the real world, specifically out in front of thousands of Texas commuters traveling on the road to One Shell Plaza.
We know Shell has the cash to try to control the story of Arctic drilling, but it’s been remarkable to see the legions of Arctic defenders use the Arctic Read ad-generator to tell Shell that they see through the PR to the truth–that Arctic drilling is a profit grab by one of the world’s richest corporations at the expense of everyone else on the planet. ArcticReady.com has clearly given people the chance to tell Shell exactly what they think, and around the world people have taken the opportunity to the max.
Thanks, people of Earth!
Of course, not everyone has been thrilled with this tactic–some people have said we’re the real villains in this Arctic fight because we are, in their words, perpetuating a hoax.
But what is a hoax? When, for example, a company says it will be able to safely drill in the Arctic while abiding by clean air standards when it’s known all along that it can’t? When it purports to have a credible spill response plan for one of the most remote and treacherous regions on earth but is just winging it on a hope and a prayer? When it’s boasted its ice class vessels will be sea-worthy in Arctic storms when, well, actually, maybe not so much? Maybe when it’s acted as if it has control of its 14,000 ton drill rig out in Dutch Harbor even as the thing goes drifting off towards town as if no one were at the wheel? Or how about when it says we desperately need to destroy one of the last pristine places on earth in order to make more “piggies”?
That sounds like a massive hoax that would put Balloon Boy to shame! I can only imagine the outrage that will erupt once these same people figure out they’ve been had–AGAIN!
Of course, what ArcticReady.com has shown is that people around the world have stopped falling for Shell’s Arctic hoax. The public sees Shell for what it is, the richest of the 1% trying to suck profits no matter the risk to the planet, and the 99% have had enough.
Shell, you hoaxsters, your cover has been blown. Time to own up to the truth