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Yes Men make headlines with Chevron spoof

Courtesy Rainforest Action Network
This was not the message Chevron meant to send in its new ad campaign.

Oil company, Chevron really did release a new public relations campaign this week. It's just not the one making headlines.

Noting its "Dan Draper-style honesty," David Zak reviewed an ad campaign Monday for Fast Company, saying:

That's right, the latest series of ads from Chevron aims to take responsibility for oil spills, poor industry safety, and exploitation of foreign resource.

Except they didn't.

The real ad campaign produced for Chevron's "We Agree" campaign were aimed at communicating Chevron's  engagement with communities and renewable energy.

The series of Chevron ads sent to news outlets hours before, with messages like "Oil companies should clean up their messes," and "Oil companies should fix the problems they create," were an elaborate hoax. The alternative messages were crafted by the Rainforest Action Network in partnership with The Yes Men and Amazon Watch.

The Yes Men are led by New York City-based Jacques Servin, who goes by Andy Bichlbaum and Igor Vamos, also known as Mike Bonanno of Troy, New York. They have pulled off a number of similar coups since their fake WTO website got them invited to an Austrian conference.

Bonanno's earliest pranks began at an upstate New York mall to fend off childhood boredom, and he says he tries to pass on his tactics to his students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  The university has not released statements on Bonanno/Vamos's more controversial stunts, including this one.

Chevron has been accused of billions of dollars of pollution damage in Ecuador, still the subject of a tumultuous, multi-year lawsuit, and in Nigeria.

In the most quoted line of Chevron's statement on the popular spoof, the company responds, "Unfortunately, there are some who are not interested in engaging in a constructive dialogue, and instead have resorted to rhetoric and stunts."

Former WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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