Shell – 20 August Case Study: Social Media Hi-jacking Danielle Roe, Analyst
Formalities This case study is based on research done during the month of August. Twitter: @saidWotORM Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/saidWot Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/saidWot Author: @danielle_roe If you find this case study interesting, consider the possibilities that our team can offer you or your brand. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background The Yes MenThe Yes Men are Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos. They are known for challengingmajor corporations, government institutions and their policies. They create phonywebsites and campaigns, pretend to be executives of the organizations and wait tobe invited to conferences. Their aim is to expose unethical behaviour, socialissues, and create environmental awareness through tactical media.
Background Organisations they’ve challenged: McDonalds Dow Chemicals WTO United States Department of Housing and Urban Development The World Trade Organization 2000 US Presidential Election ExxonMobil BP Their satirical approach includes making ridiculous and shocking comments that caricature the ideological position of an organisation or person. They recognise that many corporate or government entities manipulate their ideology using spin, in response, they use this power to their own advantage, and use media outlets to distribute their personal interpretation of the situation.
Background The Yes Men team up with Green Peace in Shell Oil Campaign“A non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries andwith an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Greenpeace states itsgoal is to "ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity" and focuses itscampaigning on world wide issues such as globalwarming, deforestation,overfishing, commercial whaling and anti-nuclear issues. Greenpeace uses directaction, lobbying and research to achieve its goals.”
The IdeaThe aim of the campaign is to highlight Shell’s leading role in exploring the Arctic for newoil reserves.They created a near identical version of Shell’s own website called Arctic Ready and filledit with content that savages the oil company albeit in the language of so many corporatewebsites.Like failed crowdsourced campaigns of the past such as the “Design Your own ChevyTahoe”, they launched a competition to create captions that would accompany Shell’s very real“Let’s Go” campaign. http://socialmediainfluence.com
How They Did It: Branded Applications A parody of the popular game “Angry Birds” was created called “Angry Bergs”. Aimed at kids the game and page also outlines the ways in which oil benefits humanity: “Mommy and Daddy can drive to the store to buy you new toys.”
How They Did It: Phony Twitter Account The hi-jackers legitimised their phony campaign by covering all the necessary social media touch points: Facebook Twitter YouTube The phony account is still active and kicking, with many activists interacting and engaging, long after the rouse ended.
What was said? Shell manages quite a few Twitter accounts, and the hi- jackers created quite a few of their own. This created mass confusion. The phony accounts tweeted in response to the campaign as if they were trying to react to the phony poster campaign. The legitimate accounts did not respond. How were users to know who’s who?
What affect did it have on the brand?Did The Yes Men hurt or help Shell?They managed to create awareness about the environmental issues involved.Twitter lit up with conversation and for a while they had us believing. However, it isunclear what the exact objective of the campaign was, which makes measuringthe results difficult.What matters is how Shell responded:Shell “…didn’t take Greenpeace’s bait. Instead Shell let the elaborate ruse playout without commenting, save for one statement on its website acknowledging thecampaign but making clear that Shell didn’t have anything to do with it. And ArcticReady makes it easy for them to do so. By pretending to be Shell and doing sucha thorough job of trying to hijack its brand, Greenpeace caused an initial shockwith the way it portrayed the oil company. But as soon as people realised thatShell had nothing to do with this and were on the receiving end of an elaboratehoax the sting went out of the stunt. By continuing to perpetuate the prank whenthere are newsworthy elements of Arctic drilling that warrant attention,Greenpeace continues to make it easy for Shell to say nothing and just keepdrilling.” http://socialmediainfluence.com
ConclusionShell is a controversial brand which is surrounded by many environmentalconcerns. This does not make them villains. It does mean, however, thatthey should be extra mindful of their reputation.When a brand decides to go online it is opening itself to thepublic. The point of social media is to interact and engage.Big brands have been inaccessible and somewhatuntouchable in the past, this has changed. Andit’s a good thing!If brands prepare themselves, there is nothing tobe afraid of.
How To Protect Your Brand From Being Hi-Jacked PREPARE – TRACK – MONITOR – MANAGE Assess and know your audience. Develop a social media strategy. Educate employees on all aspects of your strategy. Track your brand mentions and online reputation very carefully. Have a comprehensive plan for when things go wrong.
How To Protect Your Brand From Being Hi-Jacked Think every tweet and post through thoroughly. The same goes for any campaign, especially online. Handle audience engagement (positive or negative) appropriately. Stay in touch and research current issues as well as trending topics