Can New Media Save The Environment?

  • Last week we entered our new office located in a villa that is part of the formal Shell laboratory in Amsterdam. As we wanted to have a better view at the surrounding park we decided to take away a fence, without really realising we were demolishing a part of neo-imperial history. As somebody told me, the quite agressive fences were placed by Shell in their Nigeria period. During these days Shell needed to protect themselves against agressive opposers due to their not-so-nice policy in Nigeria.

    I found these pictures a couple of days ago on the blog People and Place. Interesting is not only the beautiful way these projects by Stir Marketing were executed, but the fact that they reveal a new campaigning strategy for environmental action and lobby groups. Since the eighties the environmental discussion is being dominated by Greenpeace and comparable action-minded groups, funded by donating members. Their method was often violent and very direct in terms of effectiveness. Although a lot of people sympathised with these groups, there were some arguments to discuss their methods. Not in the last place because the traditional media started comparing their initial aggressive methods to terrorism, which is a killing suggestion these days.

    Thanks to the upcoming power of media, and above all new media, the green corner of the lobby landscape has changed focus and strategy. Some groups seem to understand the new rules of marketing in a multimedia landscape. As marketing Guru Seth Godin says: “You have to be remarkable, to attract people’s attention.” In that sense the pictures above are great and inspiring. Above all they are made to get blogged and tweeted. Not only because they like the message, but rather because they like the campaign idea. As we do here now. The fact that it’s about the environment is nice as well, but not decisive, considering that we’re glad to collaborate by presenting this information to you.

    Greenpeace has gained itself position due to actions over the last decades, and so did some other older environmental organisations. Interesting though is that there seems to be room for other organisation. They use social media and the power of blogging, they use the willingness of people like us that like to drag and drop information from one digital place to another. Interesting in this perspective are influential blogs like Inhabitat and Treehugger. They both really build themselves a position as environmental platforms discussing new, green ideas. The concepts discussed are in the first place very positive. They represent good ideas and make a lot of people feel enthusiastic regarding the green topic. At the same time, other organisations look for campaigns that use the old method of ‘potential harm’. The same method that was used by Greenpeace during Shell’s Nigeria time. The argument was simple: “If you don’t listen to our opinion, we harm your case by demolishing your people or stuff”. This same argument is being revitalised by new environmental groups, but on the Internet and with another threat of harm. It’s not about stuff or people but about the brand itself. These organisations have created a position to do effective contra campaigning as long as brands are not sustainable.

    Of course you can donate for healthy and clean water in the Milwaulkee river.