The Underwater Cabinet Meeting and 5 Other Global Warming PR Stunts


The Maldives government pulled the ultimate global warming PR stunt this past weekend when it held a cabinet meeting on the sea floor. The stunt, meant to highlight the issues facing the lowest-lying country on Earth, received plenty of attention. All of which got us thinking: what other global warming PR stunts have made an impact? Below, we look at some of our favorites.

1. Earth Hour

Contentious? Yes, but that's the point. This World Wildlife Fund-organized annual event asks businesses and homes to turn off all lights and electrical appliances for an hour in protest of climate change. The global event has hundreds of participating countries and cities.

2. The Chamber of Commerce Statement

Activist group The Yes Men pulled a fast one on the Washington Post, The New York Times, and Reuters yesterday when group member Andy Bichlbaum impersonated a Chamber of Commerce executive at a press conference and delivered the following statement: "We at the Chamber have tried to keep climate science from interfering with business. But without a stable climate, there will be no business." At the end of the press event, Chamber spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel burst into the room and angrily declared that the statement was fraudulent.

mt. rushmore

3. The Mt. Rushmore Stunt

This past July, Greenpeace activists climbed Mt. Rushmore and put up a banner saying, "America Honors Leaders, Not Politicians. Stop Global Warming". The stunt was a success, with Twitter users picking up on the story en masse.

Vancouver lifeboats

4. Lifeboats

Canada's Marketing Magazine gave a 2009 Marketing Award to this stunt, which saw ad agency Rethink put hanging lifeboats up in downtown Vancouver, complete with live lifeguards. The stunt was put on in support of Offsetters' carbon offsets.

5. Glacier Nudity

If nothing else, Greenpeace has mastered the art of the publicity stunt. This time around, the organization brought 600 nude protesters to the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland. The event, photographed by installation artist Spencer Tunick, was intended to mimic the ways in which "Global warming is stripping away our glaciers and leaving our entire planet vulnerable to extreme weather, floods, sea-level rise, global decreases in carrying capacity and agricultural production, fresh water shortages, disease and mass human dislocations."

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  • Loraine Antrim

    PR "stunts" tend to be flash-in-the-pan, 15 minutes of fame endeavors. Never been a fan. Because it IS a stunt, the messaging (if there is an serious messaging) gets shadowed by the stunt itself.

    You talk about "plenty of attention" the Maldives government got. Hmmm. If you Google the Maldives government and underwater meeting you'll get about 40,000 hits. An event the same week, Apple's earnings, will bring up over 45 million hits! So the amount of press generated is hardly stellar. Granted, the government did get some great sites: CNN Asia, BBC, Times on line, but then the quality of the sites diminishes rapidly.

    A more thought-provoking PR plan might play out like the story in Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth (currently clocking about 11 million references). Here you have solid messaging AND attention that can last long term and influence country and global policy. The Maldives "stunt" will be forgotten next year. That's the difference between stunt and story and short vs long-term PR strategy.

    I very much enjoyed reading your five other favs btw!
    Loraine Antrim Core Ideas Communication.

    Loraine Antrim, Co-founding Partner
    Core Ideas Communication
    "We Create Smartmouths®"