Greenpeace, the saver of whales, the fighter of shale oil drilling, the champion of rain forests, dropped in on Procter & Gamble’s corporate headquarters this week, with typical Greenpeace flare.
They apparently snuck in at night. At midday — with a helicopter circling and filming — activists rappelled down the double-building’s sides, hanging 60-foot tall banners.
Nine of the Spideys were arrested. No one’s sure how they got into or onto the buildings, or connected the two by wire. Thankfully, no one died. [EMA has an office in Cincinnati, P&G's headquarters, but does not work with P&G. And thanks to my partner Peter Osborne for sending this along.]
The Greenies directed their ire at the huge consumer products company for its products that use palm oil, which Greenpeace feels fuels demand and leads to deforestation, damaging the world’s climate and endangering key species.
Greenpeace surely has its fans, as well as its frequent corporate targets. But the question has to be asked: Is this a crisis?
Not at all. We define a crisis as an event or decision that prevent business as usual and interrupt key company functions, often leading to lost sales and diminished reputation. I doubt sales of Head & Shoulders tanked yesterday.
This is more of a publicity stunt than a crisis. It draws attention to Greenpeace’s agenda and probably draws dollars into its fundraising pockets.
Crisis or not, how did P&G handle it? Quite well. It responded quickly, noted its concern about the environment and reiterated its efforts to make all its products more environmentally friendly.
No company wants Greenpeace guys hanging off its building, but I doubt the impact was much beyond a busy day for the PR department, which didn’t overreact.
“Today’s protest at our general offices ended peacefully, and our primary concerns were the safety of our employees, the security of our facilities and the safety of the protesters,” P&G spokesman Paul Fox said. “Today’s protest is now in the hands of local law enforcement.”
Greenpeace surely did spawn one crisis at P&G, in the building security department.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.