Well, this morning I got up bright and early to make the long drive back to Calgary from the Fort McMurray area for my Christmas break. A few weeks of raping dear Mother Earth can be nothing short of exhausting I tell you. I could almost hear her cries for mercy as we tracked the bitumen migrations of a steam injection project.
Being so fresh from working in a safe and environmentally responsible working environment, I am a little more sensitive to the hyperbole and outright BS that the anti-productive anti-prosperity crowd yelps out in their opposition to the ethical and clean example of profoundly successful capitalism in what we call the oilsands. I have written about the fabrications of that set before. The anti-oilsands gang rarely bothers to stay within reality as real science simply is not on their side.
With facts working against them, the anti-industry zealots opposing the oilsands have been working on a campaign of coaxing gullible but large companies to practice greenwashing by speaking out against Alberta products. Bed Bath and Beyond fell for it and took a public relations sting. Next up has been Chiquita with their shallow and ill-conceived claim to be avoiding Alberta products.
The backlash against Chiquita’s hypocritical greenwashing was fast, strong and effective as Chiquita has been exposed to be a much nastier world corporate citizen than any Alberta oilsands company has ever even come close to being. Chiquita has a long and shameful history of participating in corrupt regimes through the purposeful funding of terrorist groups along with a host of other practices from environmental devastation to union busting.
While driving I heard on the radio that a group of concerned Albertans would be holding a demonstration outside of a Safeway in Edmonton around noon. That timed out perfectly with my drive so of course I had to pop by. Here is what I found:
Well prepared demonstrators had stationed themselves outside of a Safeway store. They had dressed as can be seen in the picture in some Southern style wear in order to be eye catching and to make an impression. No shouting, hassling of clientele or illegal acts were required to gain the attention of shoppers. People were not hindered and a simple brochure was being handed out to those interested.
Pictured on the one side of the lit is a banana with blood spots for eyes creating a frowning face. It is a great and simple way to point out that Chiquita’s product can indeed be labelled as “blood bananas”.
On the other side of the piece was a short letter addressed to Safeway headquarters explaining how Chiquita had declared war on the very Alberta families that Safeway relies upon for it’s livelihood. Some basic background was given and it was asked that Safeway join us in standing up for Alberta’s ethical oil.
The piece is addressed and leaves room for individuals to sign it and send it to the Safeway headquarters should they like.
Clearly there had been a good press release as press from pretty much every major media outlet was in attendance.
The fellow depicted above was haranguing the demonstrator trying to imply that some sort of conspiracy of oil funding was behind this or something. He failed as the demonstrator stayed on message and no such conspiracy existed. The media was addressed throughout with a concise and consistent message.
This was a perfectly executed public demonstration complementing the online campaign standing up to the detractors of Alberta’s economic engine. It was reasoned, it had a good straightforward message and a goal. It was memorable yet did not rely on crazy, annoying or illegal stunts in order to make it be so.
In other words, it was a demonstration modelled by rational working people as opposed to the anarchistic union backed rabble that we usually see ripping up our public spaces.
The only people who were somewhat put out by this demonstration were the clearly stressed managers from within the store. The came out briefly as pictured below. They had no comment and went back inside to doubtless report to their superiors. And so the message of the demonstration climbs to those who need it. I feel for those managers but that is how it goes when one carrys a controversial product.
Chiquita has already been backtracking and are realizing that they have stepped into a public relations nightmare. The demonstration was well targeted in that I am sure that Safeway does not want this sort of attention. The grocery market is very competitive. I am pretty sure that Safeway execs are at the least sending a letter or two to Chiquita demanding that they cut it the hell out if they want to keep doing business.
This also sends a message to other large companies that jumping on the anti-Alberta greenwashing bandwagon may not be all that worth it. Not only is Alberta among one of the world’s top suppliers of clean, ethical energy; we are also a large and growing consumer market. One does not need to have a marketing degree to realize that pissing off large and growing consumer markets is something of a stupid business decision.
We recently saw countless directionless layabouts polluting public spaces around the country while causing consternation and cost to taxpayers for almost two months. Those protests never even identified an issue much left worked towards resolving one.
More recently now we have seen a small but determined group identify an issue and work effectively towards making a large multi-national company re-examine their shallow stance on Alberta. Great work. More can be found here, and here. Demonstrations can be effective and they can be so without all the mess that some insist on creating.
The screaming anarchistic left could learn a few lessons here. Of course they would have to stop their entitled yelping long enough for the message to get in.