Campaign Case Study: How Greenpeace Changed Corporate Behaviour Over Rainforest Destruction

I am often asked for ‘case studies’ of campaigns and they are hard to find.  Not so much because campaigns don’t work but because campaign groups tend to be terrible at keeping a record of what they’ve done, or spending any time documenting and sharing it.  All history is decided by whoever writes it down but all too often the only record of campaigns is in the fragmentary echoes of media coverage or the retrospective self-justifications of the campaign targets once a campaign succeeds.

Here’s one you can download – the ‘Down to Zero’ story of the 2001 – 2013 campaign by Greenpeace in Indonesia and in distant markets to stop deforestation for pulp & paper and palm oil products. The Greenpeace campaign was to make governments enforce their own policies and to change the supply chain of major multi-national corporations.

At 110 pages it’s pretty comprehensive and campaigners (and corporate PRs and Public Affairs advisers) can see the range of tactics that Greenpeace employed along the way, not just to leverage the brand sensitivity of household names like Unilever, KFC and Nestle but to make little known paper and forest giants like the Sinar Mas group and Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) into household names.

It’s the story of what became visible, ‘above the campaign line’, not the research and strategy that went on behind the scenes but you can imagine some of that.   So it’s not a how-to manual and looks more like a coffee table book of destruction, beauty and activism. But it has some happy endings and should give a lot of campaigners a lot of ideas.  The principles behind the kit-kat video, targeting Barbie and the simple but effective creation of turning campaigners into ‘tigers’ – make some tiger-striped ‘Onesies’ (like jump suits) – are tactics that could be used on almost any scale.

So well done to John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK and the Greenpeace global forest team who brought it about.   Sauven says:

“If there’s one lesson I’d draw from what we did it is to be creative and fun. All campaigns need humour. To get Mattel to stop buying their packaging from companies destroying the rainforests we produced a short film of a camp Ken splitting up from Barbie. It went viral very quickly with 1.75 million views.  But the moment that will forever stick in my mind was when Nestle decided to ban our campaign on the fan site of their facebook page. Fans of Nestle products are only allowed to say nice things about chocolate bars. It backfired on them and helped us win our campaign”.

(See  Nestlé hit by Facebook “anti-social” media surge. Angry fans swarm Nestle’s Facebook page in response to Greenpeace palm oil campaign).

* * *

If you’ve got a similarly accessible campaign case study you’d like me to mention, please let me know.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *