How Chevron’s Campaign Got Spoofed

Would the real Chevron ad campaign please stand up? This week, Chevron’s new “We Agree” campaign, which the press release says “highlights the common ground Chevron shares with people around the world on key energy issues” has gotten the company more attention than it bargained for, but not necessarily in all the ways it probably hoped.

Ad Age says the campaign “is the sort of a we’re-a-different-kind-of-oil-company messaging that invites the ire of critics decrying past and current business practices and environmental disasters.” And it seems to have done just that.

A fake website, fake press releases, and fake quotes from internal and external public relations sources spread amid legitimate information about the campaign, with confusion rising when a fake story went up on a fake Ad Age site.

As could be expected, information got muddled, and outlets including Southern California Public Radio and Fast Company magazine fell for the hoax, the story says.

The larger issue at hand: fake PR, and how to take on the fact that information, true or not, can be spread and picked up so rapidly.

The Ad Age story points out that “it’s the second time in recent months an oil company’s PR efforts have been hijacked” — citing @BPGlobalPR, comedian Josh Simpson’s fake Twitter feed.

The Yes Men, in conjunction with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Amazon Watch, claimed responsibility for the prank. The group is currently running a contest, asking people to “figure out the funniest mashups, image swaps, collages, rewrites, or remixes of [Chevron’s] print, web, and/or TV productions.”

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