Here’s a brand everyone loves to hate or loves to love. Regardless of your perspective, you’ve got to admire how Greenpeace is using social media and grassroots marketing for its cause.
Earlier this year, I wrote several times here and here about the Nestle’ palm oil debacle. The world watched as a video went viral (in this case I prefer to use “viral” versus “word-of-mouth”). It included the bloody end of an orangutan finger posing as a Nestle Kit Kat chocolate bar (bitten by an unsuspecting actor).
My posts captured the situation as it unfolded – the non-profit taking on the likes of global behemoths (along with Unilever, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, and the list goes on and on) about destruction of the rain forest by palm-oil manufacturer Sinar Mas. I read coverage in the Wall Street Journal that announced a third-party audit by Sinar Mas to clear its name only to have a comment on my blog inform me the report was fraudulent.
For as long as I can remember, Greenpeace has capitalized on every marketing and public relations tactic available to push its message to the masses and take on corporate America. Last week in the Denver airport, I was greeted on the main concourse by two Greenpeace volunteers. These kids were early 20s, and the woman I spoke with was buoyant and engaging with piercings in various facial places and spiky black hair (just sayin’).
She and her buddy were doing grassroots marketing in a high-traffic location to engage folks in the their cause – to save the rain forest by “outing” corporate America’s massive use of palm oil. I informed her I had blogged twice when the group took on Nestle and Unilever; I also opined the Greenpeace viral video was vile. (At that she looked a bit sheepish.)
She asked if I had visited its Web site to see what they were doing, and she asked me to join its cause.
I respectfully declined saying I intended to stay neutral until I was more informed, although I was likely the most-informed passerby that whole day. Had I made a donation to Greenpeace then or registered to join its cause, I knew I would need to also alter purchasing from the corporate giants Greenpeace disdains. I wasn’t ready to make that change nor did I want to be a hypocrite.
I am suitably impressed by the audacious, activist, committed, aggressive public relations by Greenpeace. I’ve watched it unfold since the beginning of my PR career more than two decades ago. Look at the Greenpeace model:
- It adopts a cause and uses every tier and tactic of marketing communications powered now by social media.
- By adopting social media, Greenpeace has hit more than just pockets of activist- oriented and like-minded consumers; it has filtered its message through the masses on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and My Space.
- It has not ignored tried-and-true grassroots marketing – the face-to-face interpersonal communication at airports in which its headquarters resides, for example. It collects names, commentary, memberships, registrations, subscriptions, and donations one by one, just like a political campaign.
For any company and not-for-profit seeking tips how to implement marketing tactics with the aplomb of Greenpeace, head to the Denver Airport for a reminder.