David Precht / Posted 7.24.2012
When trolling fails: Let's Go.
Shell's Arctic Ready campaign was really no different than the many others that came before them: create a site, load it with images depicting what their marketing team wants the public to focus on, and allowing said public to upload slogans. They let users crowdsource as many slogans as possible and inadvertantly created a hilarious anti-Shell meme generator in the process.
Oh, and did we mention it was all an elaborate hoax?
Let's hit the beach.
Man, it looked so real. It even fooled Reddit, and nobody fools Reddit. The average site visitor would have no idea that this wasn't the social media campaign equivalent of parking an unlocked Mercedes in the middle of Times Square.
As it's not necessary to wax political on whether or not drilling in the Arctic is a good thing, let's instead focus on the issue at hand… to place such a campaign on the Internet, without clearly defining it as a satire or parody is really sleazy, not to mention a huge copyright infringement (though Shell has decided not to sue).
For an organization that claims to speak the truth about the awful things happening on the planet, doesn't this distract from their credibility? Aren't people just going to spend more time talking about being duped by Greenpeace than the actual issue of Arctic drilling?
To mess with a large oil company that seemed naive about social media was hilarious. To find out that Greenpeace was using us to troll, really took all the fun out of it. While there's no denying that the ads were clever and borderline brilliant, we weren't all in on the joke. We were trolled into trolling.
The Onion makes it work. Not so sure about Greenpeace.
What do you think? Was this a trolling success or a PR disaster for Greenpeace?
David Faroz Precht is a writer and business marketing strategist at Q Digital Studio. David writes graphic novels and comic books. He has contributed to SoulPancake.com and The Onion's AV Club. He has a constant desire to rewrite everything he writes and a true love for all kinds of awkwardness. He will commit to any joke, no matter how unfunny.