Greenpeace + VW – an integrated rebellion

A fascinating new campaign from Greenpeace launched this morning, subverting the popular (and award winning) VW The Force ad. Never a dull moment around Silicon Roundabout...also stormtro... on Twitpic

I first noticed it because Twitter was abuzz this morning with news of Greenpeace’s hijack of a poster at Old Street’s ‘Silicon’ roundabout.

Some people on the ground, including some friends, initially seemed to think the Stormtroopers on the ground were a stunt for a new VW poster. At least until they noticed what was really going on. (Talking to some creative friends, there’s a consensus that the line on the poster could have been a lot clearer. Confusion, where it happens, seems to me to be mainly from people who glimpsed the poster in person.)

What’s actually happening is that Greenpeace are highlighting this report (download the PDF here). But doing so in a creative, and impressively integrated way.

“Develop your skills as a Jedi to help further the rebellion.”

Even more interesting than the poster takeover is the VW Dark Side web site. An impressive and slick site which rewards people for campaigning. Users start as a ‘Youngling’, campaigners can progress to be ‘Baby Ewok’ and work their way towards Jedi hood, earning points for spreading the campaign message. There’s a FAQ in Yoda speak and lots more nice touches to discover too.

And even more interesting than that is the way Greenpeace have subverted VW’s now famous brand association with Star Wars and come up with an integrated campaign. It feels big, significant, and well orchestrated. I’m sure they get a lot of services donated, but the production values are sky high; it feels expensive.

Greenpeace are co-optings the David vs Goliath / Jedi vs Empire story (overlooked by VW in their own use of the cute Darth Vader), casting VW as the evil empire and calling for people to join a rebellion. I think it’s enormously clever and I wonder how long before VW responds.

Read more: Marketing Week, Campaign magazine, Londonist, TNT Magazine.

8 replies on “Greenpeace + VW – an integrated rebellion”

  1. I agree. It’s wicked good.
    It lured me in…
    it had a good heart and was easy/fun to do…
    i did it and shared it.

    job done.

  2. Thanks for the quick review. I love this campaign. The movies have good quality and the overall feel is quite a great user experience. Mixing in the game mechanics, this is really working. I wish I would know how long they had for preparing this.

    One thing bothers me though. People could join with with fake names and emails. So the value of the number of rebellion participants is to be looked at with care.

  3. What’s your take on the IP infringements that look to be happening here? From the email I just received – a generic Greenpeace mailer sent as a response to the inevitable take-downs – they seem to be shaping up to argue fair use on the grounds that numerous instances of both Star Wars IP and the Volkswagen ad in question already exist online, presumably unchallenged. In their words: “There are many communications from around the YouTube Galaxy that include Star Wars characters – indeed dozens of spoofs of exactly the same advert. Which begs the question: who had a hand in attacking our communications channel?”

    If this is the case, on my deeply imperfect understanding, it seems like a risky strategy. Sure, they might welcome the publicity should Volkswagen choose to take this through the courts, but my instincts are that when push comes to shove they wouldn’t have the force of the law on their side – it might be precisely the premeditation and high production values of the campaign that damns them. They’ve gone in hard after Volskwagen here: as a supporter of theirs I hope they have a plan if and when they find themselves on the receiving end.

  4. Interesting that, according to YouTube, the takedown was a result of a copyright claim by Lucasfilm Ltd. They’re the ones with the copyright to protect I suppose. There’s definitely a possible fair use case here, given the amount of unauthorised (and unchallenged) fan created Star Wars stuff out there in the wild.

    Greenpeace are no strangers to all of this stuff of course; they’ve had IP takedowns in the past (Nestle comes to mind) and I’d say they generally motivate rather than extinguish a campaign. IANAL, but I’d doubt that there would be any serious repercussions for Greenpeace here.

Comments are closed.