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Chevron launches new ad campaign, gets lampooned

October 19, 2010
TOPICS: In the news
Chevron launched its "We Agree" advertising campaign Monday, which addresses criticisms of the oil and natural gas industry. But it was a spoof news release from environmentalists about the commercials that mad the biggest splash.

From the New York Times:

The campaign, by McGarryBowen in New York, carries the theme “We agree.” The ads seek to address critics of energy companies by affirming statements like “Oil companies should support the communities they’re part of” and “Oil companies should put their profits to good use.” A section of the Chevron Web site is also devoted to the campaign.

However, hours before the e-mails were sent, e-mails intended to resemble Chevron corporate missives also went out. They cited a different Web address, chevron-weagree.com, and included a link to what seemed to be an authentic news release on the official Chevron site.

The spoof news release carries the headline “Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims,” compared with the actual Chevron news release headline, “Chevron Launches New Global Advertising Campaign: ‘We Agree.’”

The spoof news release echoed language from the actual news release and included concocted quotations from actual Chevron executives. The main difference between the lampoon and the real one was that the fake release described the ads as addressing environmental issues in which Chevron is embroiled, including a dispute in Ecuador over oil pollution; the real ads do not directly address those matters.

At least one news outlet, the Web site of Fast Company magazine, was fooled by the prank.

The fake e-mail was followed by another, purporting to reproduce a news release that Chevron supposedly posted on the Business Wire service. It described how “a group of environmentalists cyber-posing as Chevron officials illegally spoofed Chevron’s just-launched ‘We Agree’ advertising campaign, confusing reporters.”

The second fake release, like the first, also attributed made-up quotes to real Chevron executives.

Morgan Crinklaw, a spokesman for Chevron in San Ramon, Calif., said the company was “taking down the Web sites that purport to be Chevron’s.”

“We expected something like this would be done,” he said in a phone interview on Monday afternoon, because “there are activist groups whose sole focus is attacking Chevron and not engaging in rational conversations on energy issues.”
 
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