Dow Chemical Pays Corporate Spies to Track Activist Group “The Yes Men”

Maybe you’ve heard of The Yes Men. They’re a group of performance artists/activists who engage in what they call “identity correction”: posing as representatives of large corporations in order to point out their hypocrisy and publically humiliate them. They’ve crashed conferences, industry events, and even world news.

Many people’s first exposure to The Yes Men was when they pulled a high-profile prank on Dow Chemical Company in 2004.  The BBC contacted the group through a spoof website they’d created which, among other things, credits DDT, a Dow product, with “the birth of the modern environmental movement.” (The site even has a disclaimer acknowledging it’s not an official Dow site, but apparently no one noticed the fine print.)

So, The Yes Men agreed to send a media representative on behalf of Dow to discuss the 1984 Bhopal tragedy on its 20th anniversary.  The “representative,” Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum, posing as the fictional Jude Finisterra, went on the air, and told the world that Dow was taking full responsibility for the disaster. He laid out a straightforward plan to compensate victims, clean up the toxins still polluting the area, and otherwise make amends to the people of Bhopal.

The great thing about this prank was that they were forcing Dow to publically admit they weren’t willing to spend the money it would take to simply do the right thing and clean up the site of a massive industrial accident. It made worldwide headlines before anyone at Dow even noticed the broadcast. Once alerted to the prank, the BCC immediately retracted the story, but the harm to Dow’s reputation was already done.

Now, eight years later, Wikileaks is publishing over 5 million emails obtained from global intelligence firm Stratfor, and many of them focus on Bhopal – specifically, activists demanding justice for Bhopal victims. The emails reveal that Dow actually hired corporate spies to monitor The Yes Men’s activities, even small events involving meeting with art students.

The Yes Men are taking this as a positive sign – obviously, if they pose a big enough threat to warrant this kind of attention from a huge, multinational corporation, they’re on the right track.

On Tuesday, The Yes Men held a press conference with Julian Assange, discussing the matter. Democracy Now has video of the event.


Related Stories:

Dow Chemical Company Is Full of Greenwashing | Care2 Causes

People’s Court Puts Agrochemical Giants on Trial | Care2 Causes

Yes Men: Stunts from Activists – Are We Laughing? | Care2 Causes

Photo credit: ItzaFineDay

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Terry V.
Terry V.3 years ago

A Little Good News

Glenda L.
Glenda L.3 years ago

Boycott Dow!!

Dianna B.
D B.3 years ago

I guess this is what it takes to expose those who do harm and won't take responsibility for it. They hide behind and are protected by their corporations. We need to have faces and names of these people out there instead of just the names of the corporations (DOW, Monsanto). I don't advocate violence, but I do applaud their creative efforts to expose the people behind the lies.

Xil L.
Xil L.3 years ago

they wouldn't if they didnt have anything to hide, would they. they should spend the money on bettering their products...

Myron Scott
Myron Scott3 years ago

Gotta love the Yes Men.

Ana R3 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Kasia Y.
Kasia Y.3 years ago

Corporations should require the vote of the citizens to continue their corporate charter, which should last no longer than the same period of holding a PassPort or a Drivers Licence. This would ensure that the market retains necessary corporations while unnecessary corporations and their resources are recycled back into the market.

Penny C.
Penny C.3 years ago

Good for the yes men.We need more of them:)

Noel S.
Noel S.3 years ago

Well done to the Yes Men.

I'm appalled that the Olympic Organisers want to sully their hands by permitting Dow to sponsor the Games. Apppalled.

jayasri amma
jayasri amma3 years ago

They're worried - that's good