Chevron Greenwashing Again?

Last night I opened up a New York Times article and my gaze spilled over a slick banner ad in the right margin reading:

“IT’S TIME OIL COMPANIES GET BEHIND THE DEVELOPMENT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY.”

Big, black, bold letters with red stripes. I’m thinking… Ok, you have me at hello. But who is this? A politician? Right. A new 2011 advocacy campaign? Nope. A BP rebranding? Close.

It’s a new Chevron ad campaign. Underneath that statement appears another.

“WE AGREE. DO YOU AGREE?”

I played along and clicked on the ad. It took me to a landing page full of happy, healthy people smiling and laughing. There was even a guy kissing a baby. I could have been on a wedding photography website, or looking at a photo spread form the local park and rec summer picnic. Instead, the page was covered with statements like:

“It’s Time Oil Companies Get Behind the Development of Renewable Energy” and “Oil Companies Should Support the Communities They Are Part Of.” Looming at the top of the page in dark red was Chevron boldly claiming “We Agree. Do You?” Underneath each statement is a button that reads “I Agree” that they want you to click on. Oh, and then they have a ticker at the top that shows how many people have “Agreed.” At this writing, it’s 73,760. That’s about how many followers Oprah got with her first tweet.

I’m a writer, and I understand the power of words. I also understand how to manipulate them. I take issue with what Chevron is doing, and not just that they are ending a sentence with a preposition.

1. Chevron is framing the question to make it look like me and you are the ones who are out of touch, and that we somehow need to follow them into the bright green world of human energy. Who wouldn’t agree that “Oil Companies Need to Get Real” (and yes, that’s actual real text).

2. Chevron has a counter at the top of the page keeping track of how many people “Agree” with their vague and vaguely stated feel-good text. Anyone who has spent time on Facebook is now conditioned to click on buttons like that and add their name to the ticker list. You may agree with Chevron’s statement, but do you agree with Chevron? If it were a Facebook Page, would you “Like” Chevron (43,753 have…)?

Chevron has tried to green up their image before, with a 2009 ad earning a “Suspect” rating from Enviromedia Social Marketing & the University of Oregon. And they’ve long had their “Human Energy” tagline, are they taking it to eyebrow raising greenwashing levels with their new ad campaign? Or, with their own worst case scenarios in the same arena as BP’s Gulf spill, they are actually taking the initiative to clean up their act before it gets disastrous.

Am I just a cynical blogger? Or is Chevron pulling a classic greenwash? What do you think?

Related:
6 Tips for Cutting Through Greenwashing
Oil Drilling to Resume in Gulf of Mexico

58 comments

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby4 years ago

ty

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OFFLINE NoML Thompson
Ramona Thompson6 years ago

The answer is obvious. Look at what they have, and are still, done/doing in third world countries, to indigenous people, the animals, and the land. A snake is a snake. Enough said.

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Robin T.
R T6 years ago

@ Dylan L. well said.
Why are we always so quick to judge others with out having the facts in front of us. Lets give them the benefit of the doubt and encourage them to change, who knows, they might just surprise us and be sincere (Hope springs eternal)
Cleaning up their mess in the rain forest would be a good way to prove to us cynics that they are trying to change. (Wouldn't that be Luverly.)
I wonder how many of the contributors on this subject can honestly look in a mirror and say "I am doing all I can to save oil" How many of you can honestly say "I never say yes to a plastic bag" How many can honestly say that when they get into their car they stop and ask themselves "Is this trip really necessary?"
We can all do more to make a difference, lets lead the way by example and encouragement.

Make a difference, plant a tree.

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Will L.
Past Member 6 years ago

groinx

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Carrie B.
Carrie B6 years ago

Beware. Can't judge a good book by it's cover... kind of like the marketing campaign of a big company.

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suzanne s.
suzanne s6 years ago

monica: likely just enough to earn it's p.r. worth, but that's not really the point. the real point is what chevron is doing in south america to rape the rainforests, water supply, and indigenous people; until it stops these obscene practices, anything 'good' it does is nothing but greenwashing.

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Monica D.
Monica D6 years ago

What is Chevron doing to promote renewable energy?

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William Kirkham
William K6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

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Gordana Roljic
Gordana Roljic6 years ago

good marketing propaganda...

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Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman6 years ago

thanx for the article

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