Eye on the Amazon

Revolting with the Yes Men!

"From villages in Uganda's Karamoja region to the toxic oil fields in Canada's tar sands, these iconoclastic revolutionaries take on big oil, lobbyists, Wall Street, and the U.S. government, armed with nothing but thrift store suits and a lack of shame. Overcoming personal obstacles to deliver uproarious actions of global significance, The Yes Men deliver a hopeful message about ordinary people breaking through the paralysis to take back their planet."

Our fabulous friends The Yes Men have just released their third (and many say best) movie called The Yes Men Are Revolting. We are happy to share an outtake of that film and hope everyone sees the entire film in the theaters or downloaded at home. If you get it via this link and use the promo code "Amazon Watch" 10% of the purchase will be donated to support our work to protect the Amazon.

Of course, Amazon Watch has direct experience with the genius of The Yes Men. A couple years ago when Chevron launched its insulting "We Agree" ad campaign The Yes Men worked with us and our allies at the Rainforest Action Network to not only spoof it, but to use Chevron's multi-million dollar PR strategy to call out its actual environmental crimes.

I got a call one day from an Amazon Watch supporter and environmental blogger in Los Angeles. She told me an incredible story about getting a call from an agency producing a new Chevron commercial. They wanted "real people" in the ads and were looking for someone to say generic things like "oil companies should care about the environment" so that Chevron could then respond "we agree" yet not actually DO ANYTHING about their environmental destruction. I told our friend, "go along with it! See how much information you can gather about what they are doing and then share it with us. Of course, you probably don't want to actually end up in the ad, so you could pull out at the last minute." She did and we learned a lot about the upcoming ads.

At the same time (as you see in the outtake from The Yes Men Are Revolting) a street artist who Chevron's ad agency had reached out to, also called Rainforest Action Network. He did the same thing and sent us all advance copies of the ads. I'm quite sure that was the last time Chevron ever tried to hire "real people" to do its greenwashing.

In come The Yes Men. If Chevron was brazen enough to put out ads pretending to care about people and planet, then why not take it a step further and see who would believe Chevron was going the whole way? It worked. The Yes Men issued a release AS Chevron, just before Chevron's real ad campaign launched and many outlets covered the story that Chevron was ACTUALLY admitting it should clean up its toxic messes in Ecuador and elsewhere in a "cutting edge" ad campaign.

The second wave of stories about Chevron's ad campaign weren't fooled, but much to its dismay they were writing ABOUT how Chevron got punked by The Yes Men, RAN and Amazon Watch! We had effectively hijacked their ad campaign and it grew from there. Online activists then made up hundreds of their own ads which were widely shared and can still pop up online today. Apart from offering free pizza to people in Pennsylvania after its fracking well exploded killing a worker and engendering the community, this was probably Chevron's stupidest PR move ever.

I am excited to see the other stories about The Yes Men's brilliance in their new film. Corporate power is at an all time high and has never been more of a threat as we try to grapple with looming climate chaos. We need every strategy we can think of - including The Yes Men's tactics - to call out corporate crimes and push for real change.

As The Yes Men said: "It's going to take every one of us speaking out and showing up in order to effect real change for the environment (and every other important issue of our time)." To offer a way to do that, they launched a "Week of Action" and shared multiple online actions from Amazon Watch and many others, to encourage everyone to get involved. Please go there and take action, then watch The Yes Men Are Revolting and join in the revolution, too!

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