CAMPAIGNS: Public Affairs; The Body Shop wages eco war

PR team: The Body Shop International Campaign: Lobbying, PR and advertising on behalf of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people in Nigeria, supporting a network of Ogoni indigenous people’s, green, human rights and free speech organisations. Timescale: Still underway after two years Budget: The Body Shop external costs put at under pounds 100,000.

PR team: The Body Shop International

Campaign: Lobbying, PR and advertising on behalf of Ken Saro-Wiwa and

the Ogoni people in Nigeria, supporting a network of Ogoni indigenous

people’s, green, human rights and free speech organisations.

Timescale: Still underway after two years

Budget: The Body Shop external costs put at under pounds 100,000.



The 500,000 Ogoni people live in the Niger delta where they claim that

decades of oil-enriched Nigeria’s elite - especially under military

dictatorships - and oil firms, particularly Shell - have caused

repression and environmental damage.



Tried for murder after four moderate Ogoni leaders died in a riot,

activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was recently hanged along with eight others. A

further 19 Ogonis are now due to appear before the same tribunal that

sentenced Saro-Wiwa to the gallows.



Objectives



To generate global outcry about Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people and to

persuade Shell to clean up the environment and ensure greater local

economic benefits.



Tactics



The PR team helped Ken Saro-Wiwa and Ogoni organisations to co-ordinate

a unique consortium which included pressure groups ranging from Amnesty

International to Friends of the Earth.



All possible channels were used to raise public awareness including TV,

radio, press, meetings, missions to Nigeria, store displays, an Internet

site, and The Body Shop’s first-ever advertisement. A global database of

supporters, politicians and journalists were frequently alerted to new

developments. When Saro-Wiwa’s death sentence was announced, the

campaign organisers flew his son to Auckland to lobby the Commonwealth

Heads of Government meeting, backed by a round-the-clock global media

blitz.



After Saro-Wiwa’s death, The Body Shop helped his brother, Owens Wiwa,

to flee Nigeria with his family, lobbying the foreign office to secure

safe passage.



Results



The execution and the Ogoni issue received wide media coverage,

generating public concern and protest, including short-lived Shell

petrol boycotts. But the campaign failed to save Saro-Wiwa’s life, and

has not yet forced a change to the policies or practices of Shell or

Nigeria.



The Commonwealth suspended Nigeria, demanding democratic improvements,

but the statement referred to political prisoners without any reference

to Saro-Wiwa. The US and UK tightened existing arms embargoes but have

yet to enforce trade or oil sanctions.



Despite efforts by its High Commissions in London and elsewhere to reach

the media, the Nigerian regime did little to explain its case against

what it saw as Western bias. Shell reacted with publications, a film,

media briefings and a dollars 4.5 million two-year study of the Ogoni

environment. It denied environmental devastation, and claimed to have no

influence with the government regime.



Verdict



Lots of coverage with little result so far. Against an insular military

regime making billions for its own pockets from oil while its people get

poorer, no campaign has much chance. Nor is a campaign with a budget of

less than pounds 100,000 likely to persuade the UK to renounce a pounds

333 million annual trade surplus with Nigeria.



However, according to The Body Shop, attitudes at the Foreign Office

have changed since Saro-Wiwa’s execution - demonstrated by their

agreement to grant safe passage for Owens Wiwa. And if the Ogoni

campaign has yet to see success, it has certainly done some damage to

the image of both Shell and Nigeria.



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