By Andy Bichlbaum on Mar 16 2011 - 12:46pm Tagged: Enbridge, Forest Ethics, pipeline, oil, reveal release Project: My Hair Cares

March 15, 2011

Group responsible offers free haircuts at Enbridge HQ at noon

Earlier today, the world learned of oil transport giant Enbridge’s strategy for handling inevitable oil spills along its proposed pipeline through pristine British Columbian wilderness: mop it up with human hair.

The cockamamie “MyHairCares” hoax, dreamed up by former oil workers and involving outreach to over 1000 hair salons, was promoted in a slick Video News Release and involved a flurry of conflicting press releases. The original story ran in a number of major news outlets (archive will be posted shortly here), but was pulled with no retraction or explanation after a terse denial by Enbridge that seemed to miss the point entirely. (For a longer, better denial, written on behalf of Enbridge by the pranksters, click here.)

“This was a funny way to dramatize the fact that neither Enbridge nor any other oil company can prevent spills, and that they basically have no cleanup plan,” said Shannon McPhail, a former Canadian oil worker and Canadian spokesperson for People Enbridge Ruined in Michigan (PERM), the group responsible for MyHairCares. “What's happening in Michigan proves that.”

Between 1999 and 2008 Enbridge recorded an average of more than one oil spill every week. Just last summer, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River. Enbridge is expected to face federal criminal charges for neglecting to maintain that pipeline; they are also accused of merely covering up, not actually cleaning up the oil. Further, a joint investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and CBS News found that Enbridge was coercing Kalamazoo spill victims into signing liability waiver forms. “Enbridge is manipulating and exploiting people who trust the company to do the right thing,” said former US Congressman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., Chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

“We don’t want Canadian rivers or coastlines to end up like the oily mess that Enbridge has left in a number of places around here,” said US PERM spokesperson Rick Smith.

“In the U.S. Enbridge failed to maintain their pipeline, failed to clean up their mess, and are exploiting the victims,” said McPhail. “It would be madness to let them build a pipeline in Canada, especially through one of our planet’s last great wildernesses.”

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline would cut across the Rocky Mountains, the pristine Great Bear rain forest, and over 1,000 streams and rivers. The pipeline would carry 700,000 barrels a day of petroleum products across 1,170 kilometres between Alberta’s Tar Sands and the Pacific Coast, where supertankers would carry the crude though the treacherous Douglas Channel—an area in which currents render conventional oil containment booms useless.

“A major spill on the coast or in a river would be devastating and irreversible,” said McPhail. “Canada must not trade in our wilderness just to make some foreign oil companies rich.”

One salon owner contacted after the ruse lauded the activists’ approach to getting the media to pay attention to one of the most pressing environmental issues in North America. "I wasn't tricked, I was educated,” said Brian Phillips, owner of World Salon in Toronto. “I had no idea what the people in Michigan were going through with Enbridge. We shouldn’t invite that treatment here in Canada.”

People Enbridge Ruined In Michigan (PERM) cooked up the “My Hair Cares” action with guidance from The Yes Men, as part of the Yes Lab for Creative Activism. Tomorrow, Canadian members of PERM will introduce themselves to the public during a noon press conference in front of Enbridge’s Vancouver offices. Free haircuts will available for all, and all clippings collected then (as well as any clippings mailed in by salons) will be donated to Michigan PERM members still struggling to clean up Enbridge’s mess in their community.

“Enbridge spends millions trying to convince people there's no problem,” noted McPhail. “We had to be a bit clever to compete with that.”

FREE HAIRCUTS: 12 noon PST, 505 Burrard St., Vancouver, CA


Shannon McPhail (Smithers, BC), Canadian PERM spokesperson, 250-842-2494,
Rick Smith (Michigan), US PERM spokesperson: 269-425-1822,
Sean Devlin (Vancouver) , The Yes Lab: 778.321.7306,

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Dec 18 2010 - 9:04am Tagged: Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

Do you live in the United States? Would you like to lead a postering team in your community, to wheat-paste some of these posters all over the place?

As you're probably aware, Chevron has been doing everything it can to avoid justice in Ecuador. They imagine they can cover up their crimes with slick PR campaigns. We think spreading these much-improved posters, making them visible on the street to the public at large (not just on the internet), could be one small step towards building the public pressure needed to force Chevron to compensate their many victims.

If you'd like to lead a postering team (and leaders is what it'll need, if it's to happen), please write to by January 15th, and Linda from RAN will follow up with you directly. In your email, we'd love it if you could answer these questions:

  1. Have you organized folks before? If so, tell us about it. If not, that's okay, Linda will be more than happy to help you get going.
  2. Why do you want to lead activists in your community?
  3. Why do you want to get involved in this or other campaigns?
  4. Where do you live?

Also, please feel free to email with any questions, or call Linda at 415-659-0534.

Postering is only the very first step. This campaign will need to do a whole lot in the months ahead, and we'll need leaders to make that happen. Also, this step will help us identify potential leaders for future Yes Lab projects. Please consider becoming one!

It's really important that Chevron be held accountable for its pollution in Ecuador - that will send a message to all big corporations that they can no longer poison communities with impunity.

Your friends at the Yes Men and RAN

Note: This is mainly for folks who live in the U.S., where Chevron is from. If you live in a big city, RAN or the Yes Men will be able to send you local folks for street teams. If you live in a small town and want to be a leader, you should email anyhow - there's still a way. If you live in the countryside or the wilderness, well... we're jealous!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 9 2010 - 10:36am Tagged: Chevron, oil, climate change, RAN, wheatpaste Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

After Chevron's PR disaster, RAN, AmazonWatch and the Yes Lab decided to push it further, and enlist the public's help in making sure Chevron couldn't sweep Ecuador under their greenwashed rug. The result?

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 9 2010 - 12:00am Tagged: Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

You’re hired! We’ve decided that you have all the skills required to make sure Chevron’s “We Agree” ad campaign is well and truly wrecked.

Here's your mission. You may have seen the 155 amazing, hilarious “We Agree” posters, that have gotten far more play in the news and online that Chevron’s own deranged ads. (If you haven’t submitted your own, there’s still time!)

It’s now time to take this a whole lot further, and wheat-paste your favorites everywhere. Everyone needs to wonder: “What's this whole Chevron thing about, anyhow?”

Click here for full instructions. We know this is a tall order, but as you know, it's important. And if one eight-foot giant could take over the world, surely all of us can! (Incidentally, there are awesome prizes for those who wheat-paste the most copies, as well as for those who figure out the coolest places to put up an ad.)

If nocturnal stealth and derring-do aren’t your style, here’s another way you can mess with Chevron, right from the comfort of your own home, or during your coffee break:

  • Call or email Chevron. (See below. When you find other numbers that don't go to voicemail, please send them and we'll update this page!) Make sure to record your call.
    • Chevron switchboard: 1-925-842-1000 or 1-925-218-3825.
    • CEO Watson's secretary: 1-925-842-3232.
    • CEO Watson's email:
  • Send us your phone conversation or email correspondence. There will be prizes for different categories of funny: funny repartee, most heated funny, funny confusion, nonsensical funny, and longest exchange.
  • The main point is to make something funny that people will share around widely. (It's also great to occupy a bunch of Chevron's time.) Here are just a few ideas foropeners for phone calls or emails, to get your creative juices flowing:
    • “Hello Chevron, I’m a big shareholder. I saw your ad campaign plastered all over downtown, and I think it’s misguided. People don’t like Darth Vader, or chainsaw murder, or messing up foreign countries. Why would you brag about that?”
    • “Dear Chevron: Your usage of the ‘Gollum’ character is an infringement of the rights of New Line Cinema. We hereby demand that you cease and desist from any and all misleading P.R. operations that involve the use of ‘Gollum’ or related trademarks. Yours truly, GreenbergTraurig, LLP”
    • “Hi Chevron, I’m a 94-year-old grandmother from Plano, Texas, and I just wanted to say I don’t think your Hitler ad is really appropriate for small children.”
    • “Dear Chevron: We commend you on your compassionate visual treatment of sea fowl. We can haz, indeed. Thanks.”
    • “Hey Chevron! I love your new ad campaign. Would you consider making a ‘We Agree’ poster for [insert issue here]?”
    • “My dearest Chevron: My church, acting as one, wish to commend you on your wonderful ad, ‘Oil Companies Should End The Wars They Helped Start.’ Your sentiment is noble, and the ad itself so very well conceived. May God bless you all.”
    • “Dear Chevron, Thank you for pointing out that bicycles are no panacea. It is also very smart to point out that wind power has a few drawbacks. Best, Alternative Energy Watch, San Ramon Chapter”
    • “Chevron: We wish to commend you for noting that although it is difficult to prove that God does not exist, this does not, nevertheless, prove that God does. You have some new fans at the Tuscaloosa County Atheist Association.”
    • “Yo Chevron. As a longtime shareholder, I am appalled that you would equate money with the proverbial ‘middle finger’ expression.”
    • “Dear Chevron: Your endorsement of Sarah Palin for President in 2012 does not fall on deaf ears. Just as Palin sees much from her windows, so we see Palin from ours. Best, Wasilla County GOP”
    • “Chevron: I think your ad, ‘Corporate tanks stop for no one,’ sends the wrong message. That Chinese tank actually did stop for the man in the photo, at least briefly.”

Anyhow, you get the idea... Whether you choose to mess with Chevron in the streets or from your phone, let us know how it goes!


Note: With the newly-launched Yes Lab, the Yes Men are helping a number of activist groups launch projects around crucial issues. Soon, this will mean a lot more opportunities for you to be involved—whether locally, in a specific cool action in your city, or by joining forces with thousands of others in all kinds of different places to do something fun and important, like this. To make sure you get the right messages, please take a moment to update your profile at

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 8 2010 - 10:56pm Tagged: Chevron, wheatpaste, RAN Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

It's very simple, really - just go out and wheat-paste those improved Chevron ads wherever you can, and try to take pictures of each. Contest ends December 1, but we hope you keep it up indefinitely. (See also this for another, easier contest.)

Here's how it works, in more detail:

  • Look at these ads: (See this for how this all came about.)
  • Choose your favorite printable ones (with a little printer icon), and download and print, at any size and in any quantity. (You can of course make new ads instead of downloading ones that exist. Make sure to submit them to the contest if you do! If you’ve already submitted and you can send a higher-res version, please email it to us!)
  • Go wheat-paste them up as far and wide as you can, and in as many cool locations as possible - see below. (Instructions on how to make and use wheat-paste can be found really easily:
  • Points will be awarded by size and by coolness:
    • Larger sizes will get more points. Stickers will get 1-2 points, 8.5”x11” sheets will get 3 points, billboards will get a huge number of points, etc.
    • Cool locations will get more points. Like, if you manage to get an ad onto each pump at a Chevron gas station, or onto a podium while some oil industry wonk is holding forth, or onto the back of a real Chevron manager’s suit jacket while he’s not looking, or onto a board member’s house, or... you get the idea. But just getting them under a bridge is great too! (You might want to videotape your action - it might just make it into our next film, which is about shit like this.)
    • Try to get an ad printed in your local paper - that counts as a really cool location! The sky’s the limit.
  • Try to take a snapshot of each poster after you’ve pasted it up. Then:

Now get to it!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 27 2010 - 3:45pm Tagged: Chevron, PR, Winning, reveal release Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

October 27, 2010

Chevron “We Agree” Leaks Revealed
Activists ramp up fight against Chevron “greenwashing” with posters, videos, billboard alterations, etc.

Environmental and human rights activists have revealed the various leaks that permitted them to wreck the recent launch of Chevron's ultra-expensive new "We Agree" ad campaign. The revelations came with the announcement of a new print and video contest that, for a few dollars, continues the fight against Chevron's mega-millions in a no-holds-barred PR smackdown. (One video, submitted by the comedy troupe Funny or Die, is already cracking up online legions, as are a large number of print submissions. An upcoming billboard alteration contest promises to up the ante yet further.)

Chevron's plan for the “We Agree” offensive was first leaked to Amazon Watch over a month ago, when ecologist blogger Lauren Selman received a casting call to appear in one of Chevron's new split-screen television ads. Selman used the information she gathered to help Amazon Watch, the Rainforest Action Network, and the Yes Men pre-empt Chevron's insulting PR campaign. (Read Selman's blog post here.)

Another leak came shortly after, when Chevron's ad agency, McGarryBowen, asked DC street artist César Maxit if he could help wheat-paste the new Chevron posters. Instead, Maxit sent the Chevron files to the Rainforest Action Network and helped build their campaign. (See video here.)

The activists' continuing efforts are ensuring that Chevron's PR strategy backfires severely, as media continues to highlight Chevron's poor environmental and human rights record. That's exactly the point, say the activists: to raise public awareness around Chevron's abuses in Ecuador and elsewhere, and ultimately force Chevron to do something about them.

Coming soon: a billboard alteration kit for making Chevron's real-world “We Agree” ads better, an automagical “We Agree” poster generator, online resources for producing video parodies, and more! The contest will end in late November, and voting on entries will begin next week. Very special prizes will soon be announced.

Ginger Cassady, Rainforest Action Network,, (415) 640-7155
Han Shan, Amazon Watch,, (917) 418-4133
The Yes Men,

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 20 2010 - 12:00am Tagged: Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

Note: this contest is open not only to print and web ads, but to TV PIECES as well, and to on-site billboard alterations too.

If you have video skills, study Chevron's TV ad campaign, and improve! Send us your results, post them somewhere and twitter it out with #weagree. Same with billboard alterations!

Thanks to all who have submitted print ads so far! We've been getting some great ones. Keep 'em coming, and make sure to twitter with #weagree. Entries will be posted next week.

If you saw our last press release, you'll know that in the last few days we have been working with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Amazon Watch on a campaign that spoofs Chevron's idiotic new greenwashing campaign. It's been working: search on Chevron in the news and all you get is our spoof. $50 million spent to keep our eyes off Chevron's dirt... and it all just went down the drain!

Now it's time to make sure that "the era of greenwashing is over," as The Atlantic says, flatteringly but over-optimistically - by making sure the laughter doesn't stop.

If you're game, study Chevron's real "We Agree" campaign (the print version you can see in newspapers and soon on bus shelters, etc., and also on the web and on TV). Figure out the funniest mashups, image swaps, collages, rewrites, or remixes of their print, web, and/or TV productions. Mock them up, paste them up, post them up and send them on to (by email, via a yousendit-type program, or what have you)! We'll put them on a new website next week and get that out to the press.

(New!) We're also calling for alterations of any “We Agree” ads in public places. If you see a “We Agree” poster or billboard, alter it and send us the photograph. Best alteration wins a prize! Also, help us create a “billboard alteration kit”—a readymade cut-out kit that users can simply download, print out, and go to work with.

And make sure to post whatever you do to your Facebook, and twitpic them with the hashtag #weagree. If you can, wheatpaste your posters around town, and twitpic photos of them with the same hashtag (#weagree).

The best ad gets a big prize, the best picture of an in-situ Chevron ad gets another, and I'm sure we'll be coming up with some other categories.

You might find this psd useful:
Also, you’ll need this font:
These files are compressed together here.

Have fun!
The Yes Men

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 19 2010 - 2:05pm Tagged: Chevron, Oil industry, reveal release Project: Chevron's $80 million ad campaign gets flushed

October 19, 2010

Massive Chevron Ad Campaign Derailed, Media Slapstick Follows
News outlets, citizens duped by web of deceit - but whose?

A day-long comedy of errors began Monday morning when the Yes Men, supported by Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch, pre-empted Chevron's enormous new “We Agree” ad campaign with a satirical version of their own. The activists' version highlights Chevron's environmental and social abuses - the same abuses they say Chevron is attempting to “greenwash.”

“Chevron's super-expensive fake street art is a cynical attempt to gloss over the human rights abuses and environmental degradation that is the legacy of Chevron's operations in Ecuador, Nigeria, Burma and throughout the world,” said Ginger Cassady, a campaigner at Rainforest Action Network. “They must think we're stupid.”

“They say we're 'interrupting the dialogue,'” said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men, referring to Chevron's terse condemnation. “What dialogue? Chevron's ad campaign is an insulting, confusing monologue - with many tens of millions of dollars behind it.”

The activists' pre-emptive campaign began early Monday with a press release from a spoof Chevron domain, which launched the fake “We Agree” site hours before the real Chevron could launch its own, real campaign The fake “We Agree” site featured four “improved” advertisements, complete with downloadable PDF files to be used in on-the-street postering.

Nine hours later, after issuing its own “We Agree” press release, the real Chevron decried the hoax in a predictably curt and humorless manner. Mere moments later, the counter-campaign issued a much better denial on Chevron's behalf, laying out Chevron's principal arguments in its Ecuador case. “We have binding agreements with the Ecuadorian Government exempting us from any liabilities whatsoever, granted in exchange for a $40 million cleanup of some wells by Texaco in the 1990s,” the spoof press release crowed, absurdly yet accurately.

Throughout the day, a sort of slow vaudeville unfolded on the web, as a number of press outlets, from industry mouthpieces to the AFP and even a watchdog group, produced accidental mash-ups of “real” and fake information.

First, Fast Company fell for the hoax (archived article here), then related their duping with humor. An outlet called “Environmental Leader,” quoted indiscriminately from both real and fake press releases, before quietly removing the fake parts a few hours later (original article archived here).

Shortly after that, Energy Digital, an online source providing “news and information for Energy Executives” (capitalization theirs), quoted extensively (archive here) from the fake release to describe Chevron's campaign, then mentioned that the campaign had “already been spoofed.” They didn't realize they'd just fallen for that very same spoof.

Even the AFP found itself duped (original article archived here). It described with glee the hoax “that appeared to have fooled some news outlets,” before going on to quote “the real firm” at length. (The “real firm” wasn't.)

Nor were industry watchdog groups immune. “Oil Watchdog” dissected the hoax minutely and accurately, before citing Advertising Age as one of the outlets duped. That whole article, however, was a fake.

“If you really want to snooker the media, it's pretty hard for them to resist,” said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men. “We cobbled together some fake releases and websites with string and thumbtacks and chewing gum, and we fooled some of the most respectable press in the world.”

“Chevron is doing what we did, a million times over, with a ginormous budget - and it never reveals its subterfuge,” said Bichlbaum. “No wonder the media's full of lies.”

“Yesterday's spoof was a comedy of errors, but what's happening in Ecuador is no joke,” said Mitch Anderson, a campaigner at Amazon Watch. “While Chevron spends tens of millions every year to greenwash their image and fool the media, Ecuadorians continue to die from their toxic legacy."

Yesterday's hoax is just the beginning for the activists. “Stay tuned,” said RAN's Cassady. “There's a lot more to come in the days ahead. We're going to keep Chevron scrambling.”

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By Laurel Whitney on Dec 29 2009 - 2:58pm Tagged: Canada, climate change, Copenhagen, UNFCCC, cease and desist letters Project: Canada freaks out the world

December 29, 2009

Canada Successfully Destroys Parody Websites
Climate policy remains deplorable

The government of Canada has used strong-arm tactics to shut down two parody websites criticizing Canada's poor environmental policy, taking down 4500 other websites in the process.

The two websites, "" and "", are "directly connected to a hoax which misleads people into believing that the Government of Canada will take certain actions in relation to environmental matters," wrote Mike Landreville from Environment Canada in an email to the German Internet Service Provider (ISP) Serverloft.  "We trust you appreciate the importance of avoiding confusion among the public concerning Canadian governmental affairs and that you will assist us in preventing this hoax from spreading further."

In a remarkable overstepping of bounds, Landreville also asked the ISP to "make every effort to prevent any further attempts concerning other environment-related domains (enviro, ec-gc, etc.) originating from your servers."

In response to Environment Canada's request, Serverloft immediately turned off a whole block of IP addresses, knocking out more than 4500 websites that had nothing to do with the parody sites or the activists who created them. Serverloft was shown no warrant, and never called the web hosting company about the shutdown.

"We are sorry to see that the Canadian government will not 'take certain actions' that could help stave off catastrophic climate change," said Mike Bonanno of The Yes Men, one of the groups that performed the "sophisticated hoax" two weeks ago that involved the fake sites. "And we are also sorry to see that they don't care so much for free speech."

"Surely the Canadian government has better things to do than shut down thousands of websites, beg the US for photo opps, and berate NGOs for things they haven't done," said Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men. "They could instead figure out reasonable ways of responding to their growing legion of critics."

The websites that Canada shut down were part of an elaborate "identity correction" carried out by anonymous Canadian activists, the Climate Debt Agents of Action Aid, and The Yes Men. They used press releases and fake websites to announce that Canada would adopt science-based emission targets - reducing emissions by 40% over 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050 - and would pay the countries most impacted by climate change a proportional amount of the $600 billion total recommended by the United Nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change. They even used a replica of the UN conference center podium to show "Uganda" reacting with glee to the plan, before seeing their "tragic hopes" dashed.

Canada had prepared for just such an eventuality by creating a so-called "Climate Change War Room," a special office tasked with delivering rapid-response messaging to any negative media coverage around Canada's role at the Copenhagen climate change negotiations. Despite these efforts, last week's flurry of parody announcements, which the prime minister's office called a "childish prank," received enormous media attention across Canada and caused at least two embarrassing media moments for Canadian high officials.

Canada has been heavily criticized for its increasingly deplorable climate policy, and this year in Copenhagen was awarded the "Colossal Fossil" prize for worst behavior in the COP-15 negotiations. The group giving the award, the Climate Action Network, is a global coalition of more than 500 organizations working on climate change.

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