Overused and ineffective rank’n’spank system makes another appearance
March 9 2014 – WASHINGTON, DC – Greenpeace has released a new fund raising campaign designed to rank U.S. canned tuna companies and solicit donations from supporters. The list itself follows the model Greenpeace has used for years: rank companies based on a system for which the scoring methodology is totally arbitrary and hidden, then promote those rankings in the media—rank’n’spank.
The non-scientific, non-transparent and completely subjective rankings are one of the thinnest offerings Greenpeace has ever promoted. While other annual rank’n’spank campaigns have been largely dismissed as ineffective sideshows, with a target audience of donors and institutional supporters Greenpeace has at least made an effort to make those operations appear robust. This latest promotion is anemic at best.
sustainability. The Foundation, a partnership between global tuna canners (including Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and Starkist), scientists and WWF, is the premier tuna conservation group. Reporters and producers might find it odd that Greenpeace doesn’t even acknowledge a group whose mission is to undertake science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks yet they will rank companies who participate in such group.
The media is advised to research Greenpeace’s strategy and push for scrutiny on its unpublished methodology. Further it’s urged to recognize the timing of Greenpeace’s fundraising pitches and the release of such rankings. When you click to “add your name” to what appears to be an online petition, notice two things 1.) Only the three top branded tuna companies are addressed in the “petition” despite ranking fourteen 2.) You are required to give them your name and email address to sign on – we encourage reporters to test this system and watch your inbox begin to fill up with donation requests almost right away.
Greenpeace is a multinational behemoth with a $300-million a year operating budget. It has spent a grand total of zero dollars on tuna science, yet continues to use tuna as a poster child for its fund raising efforts.
While Greenpeace brass—with their mega-yachts, hot tubs, and helicopters—certainly live like financial fat cats, currency speculation seems like an odd line of business for a non-profit allegedly focused on making the world a better place, considering some of the disastrous effects speculation has produced for large swaths of the world in the past. Then again, Greenpeace has a long and storied history of questionable and hypocritical practices.
They’ve recently come under fire when it was revealed that despite their long campaign against the high carbon-footprint of air travel, they paid for a senior GPUK executive senior executive to fly 250 miles twice a month for his“commute” between Luxembourg and Amsterdam.
And, of course, readers of this blog will know that Greenpeace frequently stoop to advancing questionable and downright harmful “research” to promote their ulterior agenda against eating fish.
Sadly, Greenpeace’s gaffes should come as no surprise. They are an organization that is perversely proud of promoting faulty science, sending out dozens of fundraising emails every week bragging about “successes” like sending costumed teenagers to harass customers at local supermarkets.
If these juvenile antics and commitment to shoddy science aren’t enough to convince fence-sitters to stop giving Greenpeace attention—and money—perhaps the tone-deaf, jet-setting hypocrisy and riverboat gambler’s approach to budgeting will.
Perhaps feeling the pressure from consistent criticism of their juvenile and immature methods, Greenpeace’s latest Carting Away The Oceans “report” represented a touching effort to show that they could act like grownups by putting out a document that included relatively few full-page pastel illustrations and zero cartoonish fish in top hats. Of course, they never bothered to address the core critique of their previous reports: that they never explain how their policies would actually help the environment, and provide zero transparency on their completely arbitrary scoring system.
The report is still a step up from their usual tactic—getting teenagers in plushy fish costumes to harass families at grocery stores—but the blip in maturity was short-lived. This week representatives from the major tuna companies and sustainability partners are meeting in Bangkok to host discussions on the current state of ongoing efforts. In the name of contributing to the conversation, Greenpeace has decided to… don those plushy costumes again and direct messages at the tuna industry filled with profanity. While this is a family-friendly blog, we can say that both a Twitter campaign and a number of harassing phone calls have made liberal use of a four letter word that starts with ‘F’ and ends with a ‘K’.
Some habits appear hard to break, and for Greenpeace, ignoring the science and succumbing to the lowest common denominator is such a habit. While the people who actually care about sustainability are hard at work, Greenpeace is content to further marginalize themselves with base comments and streetside harassment. Is it any wonder no one takes them seriously?
Something that doesn’t get talked about often, perhaps because it doesn’t happen often, is the courage and confidence it takes for a company to stand up to its detractors, and to tell its customers why. In the era of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube, most companies fear controversy more than ever, and instinctively hunker down at the hint of any bad publicity, irrespective of the truth. Not only do companies want to avoid confrontation, but they refuse to hold activist detractors’ accountable, validating customers’ suspicions that the detractors may be on to something after all.
That’s why we have to applaud Bumble Bee’s employees for standing up to Greenpeace’s bogus ocean allegations, in full view of its employees and San Diego VIPs including Mayor Kevin Faulcone and Ron Fowler, Chairman of the San Diego Padres. Undeterred by worries over negative PR, Bumble Bee employees seized the opportunity to go “sign to sign” with Greenpeace, calling out the group’s fundraising motives and the lack of scientific data behind its sustainability accusations against the company.
Even local businesses are showing they are not afraid to stand tall against false, and inflammatory claims about the dealership’s business practices. Recently, when a local union picketed one Wichita Subaru dealership for allegedly employing unfair labor practices during their remodeling, the dealership hit back with its own banner and flyer, and posted both on their website along with a detailed explanation of the dispute for their customers. The dealership’s customers stood up in support of the dealership, in large part because they went “banner to banner” against their detractors, and told their customers why the union’s allegations were false.
More companies who have been wronged by unprincipled adversaries can learn a lesson from the likes of Bumble Bee and Subaru of Wichita.
Well, we hate to say we told you so but Greenpeace’s tongue-lashing of Tesco’s introduction of a new tuna label with a predictable supply and a price tag the average UK family can afford should come as no surprise. Three years after many UK retailers decided it was better to commit to an unsustainable and unpredictable pole and line tuna product than challenge Greenpeace’s sustainability accusations, Tesco is feeling the heat from a new public relations campaign from the green monster with even harsher hostility.
We don’t like to see Tesco in this situation. But not only was the latest “rank and spank” of Tesco predictable, it serves as a cautionary tale to American retailers that there is no appeasing Greenpeace. Greenpeace makes demands, retailers acquiesce only to find themselves in the PR spotlight they sought to avoid when Greenpeace claims they can’t keep their promises or worse yet, meet new Greenpeace’s demands because what they did before is no longer enough.
We have a name for this pattern-the Greenpeace Cycle of Abuse. In simple terms, Greenpeace makes demands, the retailer cooperates and then Greenpeace turns around and asks for more.
How do you avoid getting drawn into this vicious cycle? It sounds simple but just say no. Greenpeace claims the moral high ground and threatens media attention. But the media, when confronted with the science and Greenpeace’s extreme antics and fundraising modus operandi, are not so quick to buy in to Greenpeace claims of destructive fishing practices. Talk to your canned tuna suppliers about the serious and ongoing commitments they are making in the future health of tuna partnering with marine scientists and conservation groups including WWF through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation. When Greenpeace comes calling, you can feel a whole lot better about saying no to being a victim
Phil Radford, the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, has announced that he will be stepping down from his position at the end of April. As a tribute to Radford and his work, we’ve put together a timeline of his efforts to steer American families away from canned tuna, one of the most nutritious and affordable foods available, by making false claims about its sustainability. Please join us as we take a look at back at his work, and wish him a farewell that is long overdue.
1. First Radford and Greenpeace tried to claim that skipjack and albacore tuna stocks are in trouble. Turns out they were just making stuff up.
2. When the USDA, the Institute of Medicine and Harvard, along with the leading medical associations in the U.S. all reaffirmed that tuna is heart-healthy and boosts baby brain cognition, Radford and Greenpeace put on their thinking caps to invent more wacky theories about tuna sustainability.
3. While America’s leading tuna companies continue to work with the scientific community to keep tuna healthy for generations to come, Radford and Greenpeace keep busy by dressing up in costumes and dancing in parking lots.
4. Next, Radford and Greenpeace demanded that all tuna be caught one-at-a-time with a fishing rod. When asked how much more that would cost in fuel, labor, time, and carbon emissions — Greenpeace said nothing. Apparently, they hadn’t even thought about it.
5. Undeterred by logic, facts, shame, or ridicule, Radford and Greenpeace launched a number of bold, new initiatives, including cosplay in a grocery store. . .
6. . . . And a shoddily made Pac-Man ripoff.
7. Most non-profits would be worried about alienating donors by wasting money on pointless antics. Not Radford and Greenpeace! Instead, they doubled down and bought a luxury yacht.
8. It has multiple hot-tubs! And a helicopter!
9. But when they released “Carting Away the Oceans”, a comic book that claims to be a report on sustainability, not a single mainstream news outlet paid attention. Turns out that when companies stand up for their own integrity and the facts, it’s harder for the news media to give Greenpeace a free ride.
10. Faced with mounting irrelevance in the public discussion over seafood, Radford and Greenpeace held a high-level strategy meeting.
11. After deep thought and serious consideration…
12. Phil Radford decided it was time to leave the spotlight.
13. Bon voyage, Phil. We hope your legacy of Gangam-style dance videos, yacht parties, protests in plushy costumes and knock-off video games are real résumé builders you can point to with pride when you tell them about your tenure as U.S. fundraiser-in-chief.