Al Gore’s Penguin Army

imageA video posted on YouTube, supposedly created by a 29-year-old guy from California calling himself Toutsmith, showing a caricature of Al Gore boring a group of penguins by lecturing them about global warming, has been revealed to be a creation of lobbying firm DCI Group, one of whose clients is Exxon Mobil Corp.

The fraud was exposed, surprisingly, by the Wall Street Journal. It's not clear to me exactly how they did it, since I haven't been able to access their article, but from what I can piece together they sent the creator of the video an email, and he must have responded to them. This gave them his IP address, which they promptly traced to the DCI Group.

As all the articles about this have been pointing out, the video is an example of "astroturf": The creation of a fake grassroots campaign. The London Times lists a few other recent examples of astroturf:
• In 2001 Microsoft was suspected of being behind a deluge of readers’ letters sent to newspapers complaining about the US Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against the software company

• Last year an organisation called Working Families for Wal-Mart was set up to voice the opinions of people who believe the superstore chain is helping ordinary families of America. Most of its funding came from Wal-Mart

• Even environmental groups have been Astro Turfed. The harmless- sounding Save Our Species Alliance was accused of being a front for timber lobbyists to weaken the Endangered Species Act. It is headed by a veteran PR man and the former president of the Oregon Forest Industries Council
However, the penguin video also seems to be an example of Subviral Marketing, which refers to the practice of companies creating viral content which they then deny any association with. (See the Fake Puma Ad.) So maybe this video represents the creation of a new hybrid: Subviral Astroturf.

Photos Politics

Posted on Mon Aug 07, 2006


Wow. That's amazing that this video recieved corporate financing. I vote this most pathetic piece of propaganda, ever!
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Mon Aug 07, 2006  at  01:28 AM
Plus, the penguin is a known cartoon character; it's "Tux" the Linux mascot.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Mon Aug 07, 2006  at  03:55 AM
Alex, you can access the Wall Street Journal article by (i) going to your local nes stand and buying a copy, or (ii) going to your local library and reading a copy there. These are ancient and mysterious resaerch tools I know, but ....
Posted by Sam  on  Mon Aug 07, 2006  at  06:44 AM
A news stand? They still have such things?
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Aug 07, 2006  at  09:59 AM
Does anyone else see the manbearpig poster behind him? Whoever made this knows their South Park episodes.
Posted by Dracul  on  Tue Aug 08, 2006  at  05:32 AM
I think it's safe to assume that every ostensible citizens' anti-environmental movement is "astroturf" (a fake grassroots action). All the ones I have ever heard of turn out to be funded either directly by polluting companies (oil, coal, chemical, etc.) or indirectly by the industries through their lobbying and PR groups. I don't doubt that there really are individual citizens who oppose enviromental protection for their own reasons, but they never seem to form organizations or lobbying campaigns unless Big Business foots the bill. Similarly, the scientists who cast doubt on global warming, acid rain, etc., invariably turn out to be on the polluters' payrolls.

Frequently, though, the bogus organizations manage to get interviewed by the mainstream media as counterpoints to (real) pro-environmental groups for a while before the phonies are exposed, though, which is the main reason the astroturf groups exist.

Another tactic popular with polluters is to form astroturf groups that appear to be pro-environment but actually represent the polluters' interests. For example, an organization called "Save Our Forests" might be started to lobby for clear-cutting all the trees in the national parks. Environmental groups like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife fund refer to this latter ploy as "greenmail."
Posted by Big Gary  on  Tue Aug 08, 2006  at  04:37 PM
Wow. There was one line in Batman Returns with The Penguin
Max: You need a campagin to run.
Penguin: Yeah. 'Stop global warming. Start global cooling.'

A kind of mix between that and an Inconvenient Truth, and you get:
An Inconvenient Returns.
Posted by Anguirus  on  Sun Aug 27, 2006  at  07:22 PM
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