|EDITOR'S CORNER: Greenpeace: using the Internet right|
|Written by Elizabeth Brei, Daily Vidette Columnist|
|Tuesday, 24 July 2012 16:47|
Last month, a website was created that drew quite a bit of attention. Shell seemed to be offering the public a chance to design and write a new ad that would create excitement and publicity for the pending drilling in the Arctic of Alaska.
The website’s homepage read, "Here at Shell, we’re committed to online social media. After all, it’s the fuel that lubricates the engines of Internet communication."
The website allowed visitors to choose a stock photo from a list they had available. They then were able to create a slogan to go on the photo, wrapping it up with the chosen Shell slogan, "Let’s go."
It appeared, however, that this plan at publicizing backfired spectacularly, as those opposed to Arctic drilling and in favor of pursuing clean energy came out in droves to write their own messages to the company.
There have been over 12,000 tongue-in-cheek ads since then: "Turn the power on. It’s time to melt some ice!" "Some say catastrophe, we say opportunity." "Birds are like sponges … for oil!" and my favorite, "Narwhals are the unicorns of the ocean. We provide the rainbows via oil slick."
Initially, everyone thought that Shell made a huge marketing error and was now paying the price for it. But Shell denied any involvement in the website, and Greenpeace finally stepped forward to take credit for the prank.
Shell responded by creating a fact website as an attempt to assuage critics’ concerns about the drilling, but it appears that the public has really spoken about where they stand on the issue of Arctic drilling.
Greenpeace celebrated this victory by choosing a winning ad, which features a picture of an arctic fox and reads, "You can’t run your SUV on cute." It is now on a billboard overlooking Houston, Texas, near Shell headquarters.
"When we started on this social media voyage we never dreamed that so many of you would help tug us towards our destination, away from the icebergs of unnecessary scrutiny," the website now reads, its satire holding strong.
Some people on social networks and blogs have taken issue with the method Greenpeace used to make a statement, but they could not have made a bigger impact any other way.
There are many ways to use the Internet. Social and political campaigns, and any other groups trying to make a difference are quickly learning that the best way to achieve change is to get information about their issue online.
With the quick processing and transacting of information through cyberspace, organizations like Greenpeace, as well as grassroots movements among students and other young people, are getting their messages out and having their voices heard more than ever before.
But even more important is that they are giving those who are not in positions of power an opportunity to speak up as well.
The fact is that 12,000 people got online, went to this website, and told Shell exactly what they think of their plans to drill in Alaska. The hoax would have had no power if it wasn’t for all of the people who used it to make their voices heard.
Shell is still going through with their plans for Arctic drilling. But they must know where they stand now with thousands of people.
Greenpeace successfully created a platform where people were able to creatively, energetically and humorously speak out against something they didn’t agree with. If everyone used the Internet so effectively, who knows what we could achieve?