Swing and Miss: Chevron PR efforts can’t erase stain of Ecuador pollution

posted by Rainforest Action Network

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For a big company like Chevron, image is everything. And when a company as big as Chevron dumps over 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste into a pristine rainforest, leading to the deaths of over 1,400 people and imperiling the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands more, that company’s reputation justifiably suffers.

The obvious way to repair your damaged image is to clean up your mess. We’re all expected to clean up after ourselves, and behemoth corporations are no exception. Chevron, however, seems never to have learned that life lesson. Instead of cleaning up after itself, the company just invests in PR to clean up its image.

For instance, the company is sponsoring numerous professional sports teams to try and associate the Chevron name with good ol’ American pursuits such as baseball and basketball instead of the toxic mess the company is more widely known for. Now that’s what I call a swing and a miss…

Our own hometown heroes the San Francisco Giants are one of the teams Chevron sponsors to protect the way its brand is perceived by everyday Americans even as it refuses to protect the lives of Ecuadorians. Chevron doesn’t just stop with the Giants, other teams whose good reputation the company is seeking to piggyback off of are the LA Dodgers and the New Orleans Hornets.

With the Giants making a bid for the playoffs (yeah we’re fans), and AT&T Park being right down the street, we decided to take ourselves out to the ballgame and send Chevron a message. It was a warm, sunny day out today, which was good news for everyone who came out to the daytime ball game. It also wasn’t terribly windy, which was good news for our banner.

Chevron has a huge advertisement with happy, smiling cars on the left field wall of AT&T Park. So we made ourselves a banner — hewing a bit closer to reality than Chevron’s ad, it read “Clean Up Ecuador Oil Spill” — and hung it on the left field wall, right next to Chevron’s ad.

The crowd loved it. Some folks even took up a chant of “Let them hang it” when security came and took our banner down.

Chevron can’t use PR as a pinch-hitter to get out of its mess. It’s time for Chevron to step up to the plate and clean up Ecuador.