March 16, 2011

The Yes Men Spoof Enbridge: Hair Salons Can’t Protect Against the Effects of Oil Spills

I’ve had several friends make comments recently about how reading the news is getting more and more like reading The Onion. In this day and age, when intelligence and rationality doesn’t always rule, it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t.

Which is one of the main reasons that The Yes Men are so successful. Taking something that isn’t real at all and getting the masses to believe it, all in the name of activism.

Their most recent feat? Getting most of Canada to believe that Enbridge, a global leader in crude oil and liquid pipelines, had launched a new do-good environmental campaign called MyHairCares. The initiative claimed to turn 450,000 pounds of hair from salons across North America into “super-absorbent hair booms.”

Having watched my share of pro-industry ads, it’s easy to see why no one caught that this one was a joke.

After a variety of media posted the video and mentioned the campaign, The Yes Men came forth and issued a statement:

The cockamamie “MyHairCares” hoax, dreamed up by former oil workers and involving outreach to over 1000 hair salons, was promoted in a slick Video News Release and involved a flurry of conflicting press releases. The original story ran in a number of major news outlets (archive will be posted shortly here), but was pulled with no retraction or explanation after a terse denial by Enbridge that seemed to miss the point entirely. (For a longer, better denial click here.)

“This was a funny way to dramatize the fact that neither Enbridge nor any other oil company can prevent spills, and that they basically have no cleanup plan,” said Shannon McPhail, a former Canadian oil worker and Canadian spokesperson for People Enbridge Ruined in Michigan (PERM), the group responsible for MyHairCares. “What’s happening in Michigan proves that.”

The effects of oil spills are no joke. They are hard-hitting, long lasting and threatening to the livelihoods of animals and people. Which is why we have to take the actions of companies like Enbridge — which has reported hundreds of spills on its pipelines over the last decade — seriously.

Help stop the Northern Gateway pipeline in Canada, and the threat of destruction to an entire ecosystem and culture,  and hold Enbridge accountable for last year’s spill in Kalamazoo.

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