Volkswagen targeted in major new Greenpeace campaign
A legion of seven-year old children armed with light sabers takes on Europes biggest carmaker today when a new film is launched spoofing the most successful viral internet advert in history. (1)
The Volkswagen ad, featuring a mini Darth Vader, was an online hit after being launched in the half-time ad break during this years Superbowl, racking up nearly forty million views on one YouTube posting alone and winning a Gold Lion award at Cannes. (2) Now, to highlight Volkswagens poor environmental record, Greenpeace has spoofed the ad using a cast of young Star Wars fans including talent from Billy Elliott - The Musical, and a team including top names from the advertising world, Oscar and international award-winning filmmakers, and Hollywood special effects experts.
The spoof film can be viewed at www.VWdarkside.com
The launch of the spoof - in which other young Star Wars characters challenge VWs mini Vader while a VW-branded Death Star threatens the Earth comes on the same day that Greenpeace unveils billboards at two of Londons most prestigious advertising sites. Specialist activist climbers this morning installed spoof ads at Londons largest advertising space at Old Street where the adverts can now be seen on 4 hoardings. Meanwhile, activists dressed as storm troopers are protesting outside the companys UK HQ in Milton Keynes. (3)
The new Greenpeace campaign represents a major new push against Europes largest car manufacturer. Across ten European countries including the UK, Germany and France, as well as in China, the environmental campaign group is highlighting key failures by Volkswagen to live up to the companys carefully crafted reputation as a family-friendly and environmentally responsible car manufacturer. A new Greenpeace report released today details how Volkswagen:
Is using its huge political muscle to lobby against key environmental laws
Failed to reduce petrol consumption in their cars as quickly as other volume brands, despite promoting itself as a green company and claiming it wants to be the most eco-friendly automaker in the world. (4)
Failed to introduce its lower-carbon Blue Motion technology as standard across its fleet even though doing so would make VW cars more efficient and reduce fuel costs for consumers
Speaking at the launch of the campaign Emma Gibson from Greenpeace said:
Volkswagen has spent millions on its new advert, using children and Star Wars iconography to persuade the public that its a responsible company. It was a stunningly successful advert, so VW can hardly complain if we now turn its own tactics back on the company to shine a light on its poor environmental record. There is good in VW, its customers tend to care about the environment more than most, and VW is so big that it could change the global car industry if it used its size to roll out cleaner vehicles and push for clean energy laws instead of blocking them. We hope our new campaign makes Volkswagen turn away from the dark side and be the company its customers want it to be.
The influence of Volkswagen stretches beyond its own car manufacturing. Over recent years VW has used its influence as the worlds second largest car manufacturer to block key environmental legislation.
The company is the key player in an industry group, ACEA, which is lobbying to block Europes key greenhouse gas initiative the proposal to reduce emissions by 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. In a letter to Greenpeace in February 2011 VW claims this legislation would lead to the de-industrialisation of Europe. But a new 30% target is supported by the governments of Denmark, the UK, Portugal, Sweden and Greece along with almost 100 major international businesses including Unilever, IKEA, and Google who all believe it would make Europes economy stronger and greener. (5) (6)
The new Greenpeace report also details how VW has been a significant voice in behind closed doors lobbying to oppose other important environmental laws, for example, pushing to block new vehicle efficiency measures in Europe, and joining efforts in the United States to block similar legislation there.
(3) Yeomans Drive, Blakelands, Milton Keynes MK14 5AN
The new report details how:
1. The Volkswagen Group is the largest car maker in Europe. One in five new cars sold in Europe is a Volkswagen brand, and by 2018, the company aims to be the biggest car maker in the world.
2. Volkswagen claims it also wants to be to be the most eco-friendly automaker in the world, yet the company has dragged its feet in reducing the fuel consumption of its vehicle fleet, and whilst it has developed the technologies to produce highly fuel efficient vehicles, it has not made them widely available.
3. As the biggest car company in Europe, the Volkswagen Group has the biggest climate footprint of any car manufacturer in Europe.
4. Volkswagen penalises consumers wanting smarter cleaner vehicles by artificially inflating their price and making them a niche product only.
5. Just 6% of the companys global sales in 2010 were of its most efficient models.
6. Volkswagen has a history of diverting attention from its poor overall environmental performance by developing super-efficient prototype car designs which never come to mass production.
7. Volkswagen was one of the driving forces in the lobbying campaign against the introduction of vehicle efficiency standards in Europe. It has also been part of efforts to oppose the introduction of strong US standards.
8. Volkswagen Group has more positions on the board of ACEA (the car manufacturers association and one of the most powerful lobby forces in Europe) than any other company. ACEA has been leading the charge against strong fuel efficiency standards in Europe.
9. Despite its green rhetoric, Volkswagen is opposing two vital climate policies in Europe which are needed to drive innovation and cleaner technology in the car sector, save drivers money, and help Europe reduce its damaging dependence on oil.
10. The company has the capacity to do so much better. If Volkswagen made the most fuel-efficient cars it produces as standard rather than offering efficiency technology as an expensive add-on it would be able to reduce its fleet emissions and oil consumption dramatically. If it rolled out its best technology across the fleet it would be transformational, not just to its own performance but to the European vehicle fleet as a whole.