Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Seriously, aren’t there enough real anti-Chevron people out there?

I’m just guessing that there are plenty of reasons to criticize Chevron.

They are, after all, BIG OIL

While I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them one way or the other, I suspect that it wouldn’t take me all that long to come up with plenty of dubious – if not downright hideous – things they’ve done to the environment. (That said, of course, it’s outfits like Chevron that are also the most likely to save us. That is, of course, if they don’t kill us first.)

Anyway, one would think that there are plenty of environmentally clued in folks out there who catalog what Chevron and others are up to, and who have no problem making their feelings about Chevron known by doing things like protesting at the company’s shareholder meeting.

But why bother with real people when you can hire extras to stand in for protestors who have better things to do than show up in Midland, Texas, of all boring places.

Several dozen demonstrators gathered outside the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland to condemn Chevron, which held its annual meeting on Wednesday at the historic site in the west Texas oil patch. Humberto Piaguaje, one of the indigenous Ecuadorian leaders involved in a massive lawsuit against the oil company, helped lead the sign-waving, slogan-chanting cohort. To fill out the ranks of the demonstration, a Los Angeles-based production company offered local residents $85 apiece to serve as what the firm he firm described in a recruiting e-mail as “extras/ background people.” (Source: Business Week)

The group behind the protest, of faux-test, or whatever you want to call it, is the government of Ecuador. The country had won a judgment against Chevron over oil pollution, only to have seen it thrown out in federal court earlier in the year.

Ecuador had hired a Brooklyn outfit to help them out:

MCSquared, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., bills itself as “a public relations firm with a team of multi-cultured, multi-generational, highly skilled professionals with more than 20 years of experience in cultural adaptation processes, cross-border business, large-scale and private/intimate event planning.”

With a motto of “Connect. Relate. Diffuse.”, MCSquared is a perfect exemplar of every perception that people harbor that PR is essentially bogus. In this case, the perception really is the reality.

Here’s what MCSquared to say for themselves:

 perception is reality

your reality is determined by how others see you, hear you or think of you

we inspire you to connect, relate and diffuse your message

we adapt your message and make it individual to each of your audiences

we manage perceptions

even if we speak the same language we fundamentally fail to communicate with each other

communication is not about the language we speak,
communication is about how we connect through perceptions

once connected, we convey your message and invite your audiences to relate to you and, with you, diffuse your reality

Did George Orwell come back from the dead to write for these guys?

Talk about triple speak.

I think someone needs to diffuse their reality, whatever that means.

But of course, if perception is, indeed, reality, then why not fake up a protest to give the perception of having a whole bunch of protestors?

MCSquared hired DFLA Films to document the protest – and to drum up some perception-bending protestors.

Julieta Gilbert, executive producer of DFLA Films, said in the e-mail that the company “need to get a group of people to help us document this event. … We will pay each one of them $85. They will be there for a couple of hours (8am to 12 pm). We need ethically [sic] diverse people.”

Could there have been a more perfect slip of the keyboard than that call for “ethically diverse people”?

MCSquared has supposedly run like events around the world, and they’re past masters of altering reality.

Their Facebook page includes a picture photoshopped to show Michelle Obama holding a sign that reads “#AskChevron about environmental disaster.”

Nice one!

But why stop with Michelle Obama?

I think they’re losing a beat by not having Pope Francis in there. Nelson Mandela. The Dalai Lama. Mother Teresa.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Chevron has done plenty of god-awful things over the years. And that there’s plenty of  depredation in their wake in Ecuador and other places.

But you do your cause no good – in fact, you do your cause quite a bit of harm – when you hire fake protestors to make your case, and fake up shots showing Michelle Obama’s on your side.

Surely, there are protestors out there – even some willing to trek to Midland, Texas – who want to call Chevron into account.

And as for celebrities, I suspect that MCSquared could have gotten someone “big” to legitimately carry their water for them. (Lady Gaga? Brangelina?)

But when all that matters is perception, and diffusing reality, hey, anything goes.

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