Ken dumps Barbie in Social Networking coup

The folks over at Greenpeace have embraced social networking to huge effect, and this week they launched their latest campaign with a really clever combination of their own site, a dedicated facebook page, and a cool video available on youtube.

The story is a simple one – Mattel, the toy giant, has been accused (along with a number of other major corporations) of using paper in their packaging sourced from threatened Indonesian rain forests. ┬áNow, in the 1980s or 90s that would probably have spurred Greenpeace to send activists on a sit-in, or perhaps to unfurl some giant banners somewhere* (which, for example, they’ve done recently at the Italian Cup final where a large anti-nuclear banner hijacked the event). Very worthy, but just a little bit grey and serious – preaching to the converted, with precious little effect on either the corporation or its target market.

Greenpeace, though, has very much moved with the times, and shows itself to have its finger firmly on the pulse with its ‘Ken Dumps Barbie Over Deforestation’ campaign. People signed up to greenpeace’s facebook page got the intriguing message below in their newsfeeds –

Clicking on the link brings the user to the Greenpeace facebook page, where there’s also a link to a new dedicated facebook page for the campaign. There’s also a great video, where Ken is presented with the story below:


Going to the main page for the campaign, both on facebook and on the greenpeace site, you’re met by bright vibrant colours, and a clear call to action – sign a ready-made letter of complaint to be sent to Mattel.

A brilliant campaign, which hit all the right buttons (taking its cue very obviously from the hip re-take on Ken and Barbie from Toy Story 3 – already the spawner of a number of huge viral videos), and created a massive ground-swell of public opinion which ‘helped’ Mattel take the decision to change its packaging supplier (see full story here).

Now, aside from the good news that public campaigns like this can make an actual difference, there’s also a lesson for individual webmasters here. You may not have the money to do up a great looking video, like the one that centrepieced this greenpeace campaign, but you have all the other tools which made it a success close to hand. You can set up facebook pages, you can create intelligent and catchy content, and you can present a clear call-to-action. The magic is in how you put the pieces together.

*unfurling banners is a hard habit to break, and they did indeed unfurl a giant one at Mattel headquarters as well as part of the campaign.


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