Ken dumps Barbie: Greenpeace’s latest success!

As most people who’ve read on the history of CSR will know, Greenpeace features big with their campaign around Brent Spar.  They are the perfect example of what some researchers call ‘confronters’, i.e. organizations that attack the corporations in order to raise their awareness on CSR/Sustainability issues.  Another example of how they did this was against Nestle’s Kit Kat, protesting against the use of Palm Oil, which led to the destruction of Orangutan habitats.  Their campaign featured a series of gruesome videos, which you can see on YouTube, including this one and this one (please take the “gruesome” warning seriously before watching!).

Personally, I’m much more a fan of the ‘engagers’, i.e. those organizations that work with the corporations to improve practices, realizing that change doesn’t happen in a day.  But, of course, ‘confronters’ can be just as successful, as Greenpeace demonstrated in their campaign against Mattel, the makers of Barbie and her boyfriend Ken.  There is a little less aggression in this campaign and a little more wit, which is perhaps why I enjoyed it a lot.

It turns out that the packaging for Barbies comes from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a company that destroys Indonesian rainforests (home of the threatened Sumatran tiger) to get their product. What would you do if you were Greenpeace? 

I’ll let them tell the story, but here’s the gist of it – you pretend that Ken found out about this and is breaking up with his girlfriend! Barbie is seen as personally destroying the rainforests (much like the Kit Kat bars in one of the videos above) and Ken will not stand for it.  Of course, the campaign also involved a typically Greenpeace-like invasion of the roof of the Mattel building to drop a huge banner from it, but like I said, I’ll let them tell the story (hint – drop down to the bottom of the page to see how things unfolded, in a series of slides and videos) or you can read this article in the LA Times.

This entry was posted in Case Studies.

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