Part One - Corporate Bullying
A. Keeping Up Appearances
2. BP: beyond petroleum?
BP provides an extreme example of greenwash. While rebranding itself as an energy company by replacing its old logo with a "vibrant sunburst of green, white and yellow" and installing solar panels on its service stations, the oil company did not hesitate to cooperate with paramilitary forces in Colombia. Enlighted environmentalism and caring for human rights are not on the same agenda.
3. Dialogue: Divide and Rule
In the past few years, companies have set up forums between environmentalists and the biotech, oil, mining and nuclear industries. Stakeholder consultation can be seen as the start of a systematic attempt by transnational corporations to redefine themselves as operating for the common good, not profit, while dividing the opposition. What are the effects of these dialogues between businesses and their moderate critics?
4. The Sponsorship Scam
Corporations manufacture lesson-building kits for schoolchildren to get a head start on implanting their brands into young minds. They also engage in "sponsorship" of environmentalism. This can lead to conflicts of interest such as the WWF accepting people from Shell on its board.
5. The Greens Get Eaten
Environmentalism, like almost everything else, is in danger of being swallowed by the corporate leviathan. If this happens, it will disappear without trace. No one threatens its survival as much as the greens who have taken the company shilling.
B. Behind the Façade
6. Krafting a Smokescreen
Philip Morris strives to polish its image with investors, while launching a global lobbying effort to undermine a World Health Organization treaty on tobacco control. INFACT, the corporate watchdog, explains how Philip Morris hired PR consultant Burson-Marsteller to counter the effects of their boycott campaign.
7. Joint Forces
After successful campaigns and rallies against the MAI and WTO, disgruntled companies formed coalitions to quash these unwelcome threats to their economic interests. This chapter analyses the panic that broke out after successful Internet campaigns and real live rallies (Seatlle!) at the turn of the century.
8. Using Libel Laws to Silence Critics
Long before the McLibel court case, McDonald's proved willing to use British libel laws to censor the media. Major media players chose to give in after just one threatening letter from the hamburger giant. Even after the McLibel trial exposed this, the makers of a documentary about the trial encountered reluctance by major broadcasting corporations to air the film on national TV.
C. Undercover Operations
10. Garbology: Activist Trash as Corporate
A self-proclaimed activist collected wastepaper at about thirty third-world and activist movement offices in the Netherlands. Careful research in 1994 revealed how a private security firm had recycled original documents and failed copies into files on campaigners and their organizations. Content filtered from the wastepaper surfaced at strategic moments in right-wing newspapers or on multinationals' desks.
Part Two - Battling Big Business
14. Investigating & exposing
The author of Secrets & Lies: The Anatomy of an Anti-environmental PR Campaign describes the investigative reporter's quest for whistleblowers. This book exposed a campaign promoting rainforest logging run by the British-based public relations company Shandwick at the behest of the New Zealand government - the aim was to "neutralize" environmentalists opposed to logging. About the research that made the book.
15. Digging Up Astroturf
Bogus environmental organizations present themselves as concerned citizens while carrying out a corporate agenda. This use of front groups-called "astroturf," as opposed to grassroots, movements-has moved into Europe. In Germany the conventional and nuclear power industries were caught orchestrating a series of local campaigns against windmills. The chapter looks at the difficulties of exposing such schemes.
16. Obstructing the Mainstream: Lessons from
A practical report from the inside on how the Battle of Seattle and Washington protests were organized, including the growth and development of inspiring initiatives like ATTAC and the Ruckus Society. Countering the critique on the devaluation of the effectiveness of protests against world gatherings (repetition is boring), this chapter should serve as a reference guide for future happenings.
17. Communications Guerillas
This practical guide to deconstructing media strategies, written by media manipulators in the tradition of the Communication Guerilla Handbook, is based on a concept of politics which tries to understand the ways communication functions between corporations/polticians and the public and offers lots of possibilities to influence or divert it. Read about the advantages of not restricting oneself to traditional declarations and other usual forms of militancy.
18. Virtual Sabotage
On line demonstration aims not to cause maximum damage, but to be a symbolic act of compression: the long-awaited and long-desired synchronization of the online and the offline. The Lufthansa Deportation Class Netstrike analysed as a case of virtual sabotage.
Core net activists are confronted with key issues like: How can the Net be used best for campaigning? Should the focus be on spreading counterinformation or founding alternative networks? Should it be aimed at spreading content or connecting to confrontations at street level? Should we keep exploring the back alleys of the Net? And how much should we worry about the consolidation of free zones in the face of the potential rise of the dotcoms?
Afterword: the Pandora Project
The making of this book has unearthed a lot of material and sources on corporate counterstrategies. In order to expand the reach of the book, we intend to make available much of the research done for it. This idea started as an initiative to shine a spotlight on the public relations industry: Opening Pandora's Box. The main goal of the Pandora Project is to compile an online database of corporate counterstrategies.
Pandora, being too curious
for her own good,
opens a forbidden box, and all the Evils of mankind fly out...
Similarly, the Pandora Project intends to crack open the PR industry
and spread its noxious secrets to people everywhere.