Morning Advantage: Have Mickey and Minnie Saved the Rain Forests?

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For years, environmental activists had been making little headway in their efforts to stop Asia Pulp and Paper from destroying the habitats of the orangutans and Sumatran tigers, reports the Christian Science Monitor. But that all changed when they switched tack and targeted, not the company itself but its customers. Kick-starting the effort in truly retro fashion, they hired actors to dress up as Minnie and Mickey Mouse, lock themselves to Walt Disney’s headquarters building, and fly a banner reading "Disney is destroying Indonesia's rain forests.”
Eighteen months of negotiations later, Disney issued new standards requiring that all paper the company, its suppliers, and its licensees use be sustainably sourced — a policy so far-reaching it had to be translated into 35 languages. Dozens of major paper-consuming firms followed suit, effectively freezing APP out of much of the European and U.S. markets. Suddenly APP announced it, too, is going green. “I think this will stand as one of the biggest market-based campaign successes that we've seen in a long time," says Laurel Sutherlin of the Rainforest Action Network. “We're still a little bit stunned."

For years, environmental activists had been making little headway in their efforts to stop Asia Pulp and Paper from destroying the habitats of the orangutans and Sumatran tigers, reports the Christian Science Monitor. But that all changed when they switched tack and targeted, not the company itself but its customers. Kick-starting the effort in truly retro fashion, they hired actors to dress up as Minnie and Mickey Mouse, lock themselves to Walt Disney’s headquarters building, and fly a banner reading "Disney is destroying Indonesia's rain forests.”

Eighteen months of negotiations later, Disney issued new standards requiring that all paper the company, its suppliers, and its licensees use be sustainably sourced — a policy so far-reaching it had to be translated into 35 languages. Dozens of major paper-consuming firms followed suit, effectively freezing APP out of much of the European and U.S. markets. Suddenly APP announced it, too, is going green. “I think this will stand as one of the biggest market-based campaign successes that we've seen in a long time," says Laurel Sutherlin of the Rainforest Action Network. “We're still a little bit stunned."

 

Harvard Business Review
Andrea Ovans
Thursday, February 28, 2013

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