On June 7, an Occupy Seattle activist, Logan Price, posted a video online that appeared to show an embarrassing scene from a private party of Shell Oil executives. Price explained, on his twitter page, that he had managed to infiltrate the party, which was intended to celebrate the launch of Shell's Arctic drilling program, and which was hosted at the top of the Seattle Space Needle.
The centerpiece of the party was a sculpture shaped like an iceberg, topped by a miniature oil rig that dispensed drinks for the guests. In the video, an elderly lady could be seen approaching the model rig, cup in hand, ready to be served the first drink. However, the drink dispenser malfunctioned and began squirting a brown liquid all over her as she screamed in shock.
"Turn it off!" an executive demanded. "I can't turn it off," another replied.
Soon after Price posted it, the video went viral online, spread by bloggers and news sites including Tree hugger, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Gothamist, Gizmodo, and Gawker. The symbolism seemed too perfect — an oil rig drink dispenser springs a leak at the launch party for an oil drilling program!
Of course, it was all just a little too perfect. Soon after being released, the video (as well as the entire event) was exposed as a hoax. Bloggers realized that the pr firm that had supposedly organized the event, Wainwright & Shore, wasn't a real pr firm. Its website had only recently been created. The hoax was traced to the activist group the Yes Men, working in collaboration with Occupy Seattle and Greenpeace. These groups took full credit for the hoax, and even posted another video showing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the stunt. The elderly spray victim in the video turned out to be Dorli Rainey, an 84-year-old woman who had recently gained fame as a pepper-spray victim during a protest rally.
Wainwright & Shore, a phony PR firm
In a follow-up to the hoax, news outlets and some blogs received a statement appearing to come from Shell Oil denouncing the hoax. This statement also turned out to be a hoax.
Following the video hoax, the Yes Men also unveiled a hoax website, ArcticReady.com. The site purported to be an official Shell site touting how the melting of the polar ice caps, while unfortunate for the planet's climate, also offered exciting opportunities for new oil drilling. Shell Oil is, in fact, taking advantage of polar melting to start new drilling.