Image courtesy of the Huffington Post.
If you're like me, you may have already received an email or spotted a shocked tweet or Facebook post about Shell's social media fail. On first glance, it looks like the Arctic Ready website was a crowdsourcing experiment gone completely off the rails.
Except it isn't real. It was an elaborate campaign created by Greenpeace to bring attention to Arctic drilling. With a court order keeping them miles from the drilling site, Greenpeace needed to find a new way to get the word out. So, in June they created the Arctic Ready site, an embarrassing video (also fake) and topped it off with fabricated legal threats from Shell. They even created a fake PR company.
- Most obviously, committed opponents are more than willing to appropriate corporate brands achieve objectives;
- In the real-time environment of the news cycle, you cannot rely on outlets to research or even confirm online sources are legitimate;
- Corporate PR misteps in the social media space are common enough that such a "fail" by Shell was seen as a completely believable scenario.
Did the campaign raise awareness of Shell and its activities in the Arctic? It did. But with whom? The average person hearing about the campaign now more likely hears "hoax" than "drilling".