"Dow Chemical and Dow's PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, tried to shut down some parody sites and ended up bringing themselves a heap of negative publicity," writes Joyce Slaton. It all began when the Yes Men, impersonating Dow, created a site detailing Dow's responsibility in the Bhopal disaster.
"This is George," a girl's voice says. "This is the gas that George bought for his S.U.V." The screen then shows a map of the Middle East. "These are the countries where the executives bought the oil that made the gas that George bought for his S.U.V." The picture switches to a scene of armed terrorists in a desert. "And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his S.U.V." The ads, modeled after the Drug Council's TV commercials alleging that drug users support terrorism, are the brainchild of author and columnist Arianna Huffington.
Oh what a tangled web: "Two giant companies are struggling to shut down parody websites that portray them unfavorably, interrupting internet use for thousands in the process, and filing a lawsuit that pits the formidable legal department of PR giant Burson-Marsteller against a freshman at Hampshire College," writes Paul Hardin (the freshman in question).
While Fox News and other mainstream media often seem to be cheerleading for a US attack on Iraq, an alternative media website is providing information, analysis and anti-war advocacy that is kept off the Boob Tube. Check out Alternet's Iraq News Log which says that "a unilateral strike against Baghdad is both unwarranted and potentially disastrous. This content file offers readers breaking news, the best analysis, activism resources, and timely information they need to resist this precipitous rush to war."
During the past two days, PR Watch received emails alerting us of an unbelievable press release from Dow Chemical. "DOW ADDRESSES BHOPAL OUTRAGE, EXPLAINS POSITION," read the release headline. "Many individuals within Dow feel tremendous sorrow about the Bhopal disaster," the release read. However, Dow has "responsibilities to our shareholders and our industry colleagues that make action on Bhopal impossible." The release directs people to the website "www.dow-chemical.com" for Dow's statement on Bhopal.
Are Berman & Co., flacks for the tobacco, restaurant and booze industries who specialize in attacking groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Greenpeace, preparing to launch a new front group called "Tarnish the Halo?" Or are they just looking for new recruits for their on-going smear campaigns? We wonder because they've posted a job advertisement seeking a researcher. "The food police want us arrested," the ad states. "The animal-rights movement wants us thrown to the lions.
"Julia Butterfly Hill lived in the branches of a giant California redwood for two years to keep the Pacific Lumber Company from making it into planking, and when she climbed back down to earth, she discovered that the ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day had used her likeness in an ad campaign without her permission. She sued, and last week reached a settlement. ... [T]he shop has agreed to shell out a significant cash donation to a worthy cause and produce a prominent print ad campaign for a foundation of Ms. Butterfly's choosing."
During recent protests in Washington against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, police deliberately used mass arrests to round up protesters who had committed no crime, writes law professor Jonathan Turley. "All the students were arrested while trying to comply with the law," he writes. "The D.C. and National Park Service police had used the same technique in each instance: Surround the crowd. Tell its members to disperse or face arrest. And then, as people try to disperse, block their escape with rows of officers in riot gear and arrest them. ...