The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Greenpeace Inc. [Guest Article]

Posted by keith on August 26th, 2010

As some readers may have noted, an email recently came through Greenpeace’s UK newsletter inviting its supporters to take part in a poll:

We’re carrying out a global poll to find out what Greenpeace means to you and which issues you think are most important. This is to help us do an even better job in the future.

As a supporter of the organisation we value your opinion. The survey is quite long, but if you can spare fifteen minutes of your time we’d really appreciate it.

So far, pretty normal behaviour for a NGO – large campaigning organisations regularly do surveys of their supporters to gauge opinions and decide on targets.

However, this survey was a little different. The survey has been designed by a Dutch company called Motivaction Research and Strategy. A look at their website reveals that they are a consumer research company specialising in branding and brand potential, tailored messages to target groups and building customer loyalty. Their main product is a demographic model called ‘Mentality’:

Mentality™: Turning Consumers into Fans

Developed in-house and incorportating more than ten years of lifestyle research experience, Mentality™ provides a window into your target group’s motivation and behavior.

The result? Highly accurate information that will provide you with a more effective marketing and communications strategy than traditional models.

Social Milieus: Do You Know Your Demographic?

Using the Mentality™ model, we identify your target group according to their attitudes towards life. And since each milieu has its own lifestyle and consumption patterns which are expressed through concrete behaviors knowing their next move can help turn your target group into your fans.

Using our in-house developed Mentality™ model, we’ll provide you with razor-sharp insights into your target group’s perceptions, helping you to achieve a high return on your marketing, communication and policy investments.

By studying socio-cultural undercurrents among your target group, we’ll help you position your products and services accurately and confidently in the market.

(Our emphasis)

Some of Motivaction’s past clients include Coca Cola, Imperial Tobacco, Unilever, McDonald’s and Mercedes Benz. On top of that, why is an environmental campaigning group employing a marketing company that promises to “achieve a high return on your marketing, communication and policy investments” to create brand and customer loyalty?

Because Greenpeace is a brand.

Greenpeace has become like any other corporation, using demographic segmentation techniques to analyse how best to brand themselves to attract customers. The survey itself, as well as questions on what environmental problems the survey-taker think are most important, also included sections on people’s opinions of rival organisations (including its radical splinter sea shepherd), opinions of Greenpeace itself and demographic questions. It seems that Greenpeace is trying to find its niche in a ‘marketplace’ of environmental organisations, using demographic analysis to find who its loyal ‘customers’ are to focus their branding on them.

So, Greenpeace supporters amongst you reading this: you are being analysed and treated as a consumer, marketed at and targeted with a brand to suit your “milieu”.

Is this what the environmental movement should be?

Whilst Greenpeace are busy spending supporters money on corporate branding and promoting the reform of Industrial Civilisation, the destruction of forests, pollution of oceans and the 6th mass extinction continues unabated. Activists need to see that Greenpeace and its colleagues (even Oxfam features as a client to Motivaction) are becoming brands, competing in a marketplace for your ‘custom’ – they’re turning our anger and activism into a consumer item. Activists need to see this and move beyond the corporatized NGOs and take real action, and show them that we won’t consume their corrupted vision of environmentalism.

Readers may wish to take part in and skew said survey, (remembering to not enter demographic details) and say what you really think of their corporate style and efforts at branding.

This article was written for The Unsuitablog by the environmental activist and writer, David McKay.

UPDATE: I created the Greenpeace Inc. logo as a spoof, but have now discovered that Greenpeace Inc. is registered in the state of California as a Corporation; and thus the wheel turns further in favour of the corporate machine. Thanks for making my decisions so much easier, Greenpeace Inc.


4 Responses to “Greenpeace Inc. [Guest Article]”

  1. smalleybiggs Says:

    I think you make too much of a leap here. If you are as big an organization (or company in the corporate world), knowing who your supporters are and what they care about is of the utmost importance. To infer that because information on demographics, etc, is being collected and is therefore going to be used for marketing is really too big of a stretch. There are many reasons one might collect this type of information – what they might do with the information that people volunteer to contribute is nothing more than speculation on your part.

  2. keith Says:

    The point being made here, though, is that Greenpeace are not only acting as a corporation – and they are phenomenally heirarchical in their operations – but that they have no qualms as to who they choose to do their work.

  3. David McKay Says:

    Smalleybiggs: many organisations do undertake surveys to see what their members care about and that’s pretty standard and understandable, what I was focusing on was that instead of creating the poll themselves (as they’ve done in the past), they’ve contracted out a company whose business is to construct surveys in order to work out how to build their client’s brand and customer loyalty – it gives the game away a bit that their intention isn’t just going to be listening to their members! The line has been crossed between supporter and customer, and thus they have further lost their credibility and effectiveness.

  4. Ralph Beanface Says:

    I knew that they are one of the more beaurocratic organisations, but never realised that they subscribed so fully to dubious practices. what they DO in terms of direct action is great, but so much money goes towards keeping the brand alive too.
    Thanks for such an informative article, I’ll definitely fill out the poll ‘from the inside’.

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