UK branches of global environmental pressure groups Greenpeace,
Friends of the Earth and People & Planet have combined PR forces for a
media assault on Esso, the British brand name of the world's largest oil
corporation, Exxon Mobil.
The organisations took the opportunity to disturb the Bank Holiday peace
of Esso's senior media adviser David Eglinton and his team to roll out
their 'Stop Esso' campaign.
They are asking consumers to stop buying petrol and other products from
Esso until Exxon Mobil changes its stance on climate change.
The boycott is backed by celebrities including Damien Hurst, Rory
Bremner, Bianca Jagger and Annie Lennox. Body Shop founder Anita Roddick
is planning to publicise the campaign in her UK stores.
Last weekend, newspapers carried articles featuring Jagger, who was
quoted as saying that Esso had 'never invested a single penny in
renewable energy' - a claim reiterated by Roddick on the Today programme
Esso quickly sought to counter the claims, issuing a statement and
offering interviews. 'We are trying to put the facts out and get them
across to the media and the public following these untruths,' said
The cat-and-mouse tactics employed by both lobby groups and oil
companies have led to an air of secrecy with both parties unwilling to
reveal specific details of their media strategies.
Eglinton reluctantly conceded a team of 'four or five' press officers
were fielding scores of calls, and that 'several' broadcast media
interviews had been given on Monday and Tuesday.
The Esso spokesman sought to rubbish the boycott campaign, by claiming
it would be 'counter-productive'. He also offered a warning that it
could harm the 'thousands of independent British businessmen and women
and their staff' who operate Esso petrol stations.
The combined campaign of the environmentalists also includes the support
of some MPs, who have signed a pledge to boycott forecourts.
The media strategy and teams are being led by experienced climate
campaigners, Greenpeace spokesman Rob Gueterbock and FoE senior
campaigner Roger Higman.
'We are adopting many obvious ways to encourage people to join the
campaign, which will last until Bush and Exxon Mobil decide to change
their policies on climate change,' said Gueterbock.