Brooklyn, New York-based PR firm MCSquared said Friday that it was not behind hired protesters at Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting this week, nor was it responsible for the #AskChevron Twitter campaign.
A number of actors were paid to fill out the ranks of the Texas demonstration against the energy company, according to a Friday article in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Jean-Paul Borja from MCSquared said the Republic of Ecuador, the site of a long-running environmental lawsuit against Chevron, is a client of the firm. He also confirmed that Humberto Piaguaje and Robinson Yumbo, indigenous people from Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, led a protest against Chevron outside the meeting in Midland, Texas.
"We didn’t hire paid actors; we went to the site with indigenous people to get word out," Borja told PRWeek, adding that MCSquared was not behind environmental group Toxic Effect’s #AskChevron Twitter campaign, either.
Los Angeles-based production company DFLA Films offered local residents $85 each to serve as "extras/background people," according to Businessweek, citing an email from the company’s executive producer, Julieta Gilbert. She did not organize the protest, but "helped with it," according to the article.
Borja said he believes Businessweek assumed MCSquared was involved with the faux activism because Karen Hinton, PR person for Steven Donziger, the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer in the lawsuit against Chevron, said MCSquared handled the protest.
"We were not involved at all. Call MCSquared. They handled," Hinton is quoted as saying in the Businessweek article.