Mattel employees were treated to a spectacle yesterday at the company’s California headquarters. Greenpeace activists clad in outfits Barbie would be proud of rappelled down the side of Mattel’s 15-story building to unfurl a massive banner depicting an unhappy Ken doll breaking the bad news to his longtime love, "Barbie: It's over. I don't date girls that are into deforestation." A compatriot in pink and blue Spandex held down the fort on the ground level with a bright pink skip loader.
The stunt was part of Greenpeace’s ongoing campaign to pressure Mattel into halting the use of materials in their packaging that come from imperiled biodiversity-filled rainforests in Indonesia. The ultimate target of the flashy campaign is not Mattel itself, but rather Asia Pulp & Paper, Mattel’s paper supplier. The common activist tactic of “naming and shaming” is in this case hoping to put pressure on Mattel to cancel its AP&P contract.
It was Mattel this time that was on the receiving end of Greenpeace’s guerrilla approach to fighting deforestation, but they are in good company. McDonald’s, Unilever, Burger King, and Nestlé have all endured their share of the blame game.