Whales as Canon Fodder?

If you want to shoot a whale - use a CANON. …But only if Canon tells  the whalers to lose the harpoons

A cor­po­ra­tion which paints itself as a defend­er of wildlife and one con­cerned about endan­gered species and the nat­u­ral world ought to do more than express those val­ues in images, adver­tise­ments, and spon­sor­ships: they need to use their immense pow­er to speak out and act for a bet­ter world.

Does Canon sup­port shoot­ing whales? | Green­peace Inter­na­tion­al

Alas, gen­tle read­ers, I have been oth­er­wise occu­pied for over­long.  We just launched a new push again­st Canon cam­eras to speak out again­st whal­ing in Japan, and it has tak­en some long nights and intense days to get it out the door.

As with the Green my Apple cam­paign, and the Iceland Whales Pledge, this is a new kind of cam­paign for Green­peace.  And while it may be sur­pris­ing, Green­peace like any insti­tu­tion, can find  new things scary.  I doubt this one would have got­ten off the ground if it had gone through our mon­u­men­tal­ly con­ser­v­a­tive plan­ning process.  Instead, it came about in one of those tremen­dous, serendip­i­tous blasts of cre­ativ­i­ty that I so damn wish could learn to play nice with process, but nev­er do.

It hap­pened on a phone call with the Esper­an­za in the South­ern Ocean. A dis­cus­sion about pub­lic engage­ment.  We had been so impressed by the action of one of our sup­port­ers in New Zealand, who had tak­en it upon her­self to write to Toy­ota to say she wasn´t replac­ing her Prius, because it was Japan­ese. 

Now we don´t sup­port boy­cotts on Japan­ese prod­ucts, but we get this stuff from sup­port­ers all the time, who just run their own rogue actions.  Well this one hit pay­dirt.  Not only did she get a state­ment from Toy­ota New Zealand stat­ing that the com­pa­ny didn´t sup­port whal­ing for com­mer­cial or sci­en­tific pur­pos­es, she brought it to the news­pa­pers.  Toy­ota Japan imme­di­ate­ly got all heavy on their Kiwi part­ners.

So there we are, say­ing what can we learn from this, how can we repli­cate this?  How can we gen­er­ate pres­sure in Japan from the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty to address whal­ing as a bot­tom line laibil­i­ty that con­tributes noth­ing to Japan­ese soci­ety, and which in fact costs tax­pay­ers bil­lions of yen every year to fund sci­ence which nobody wants and whale­meat which nobody eats.  In short, how do we cause a fra­cas for a Japan­ese cor­po­ra­tion with the pow­er to do some­thing about whal­ing.

We liked the Toy­ota exam­ple, but reject­ed cars.  Our cli­mate cam­paign is going after cars for oth­er rea­sons.  So we scratch our heads for a while via satel­lite, and Dave Wal­sh, rock­ing on the Antarc­tic waters, glances at the cam­era on his desk.  What about Canon?

Oh yeah. All that Wildlife As Canon Sees it stuff. Whales sell­ing cam­eras.

Well it just so hap­pens that Junichi in Japan is on the call, and knows that the CEO of Canon is only the sin­gle most pow­er­ful CEO in the entire coun­try at the moment and the chair of the Japan­ese Busi­ness Fed­er­a­tion.  He has the ear of the Prime Min­is­ter, and a respon­si­bil­i­ty to look after all Japan­ese  busi­ness inter­ests.

Konichi­wa, Canon!

So we wrote to them, and sim­ply asked that they speak out again­st shoot­ing endan­gered species with a har­poon, when a cam­era and oth­er harm­less meth­ods can gen­er­ate all the research you need to know.

Yet despite being one of the best know “Wildlife Brands,”  despite being the old­est cor­po­rate spon­sor of World Wide Fund for Nature in Europe, despite all those ads in Nation­al Geo­graph­ic talk­ing about endan­gered species, they wouldn´t sign a sim­ple state­ment con­demn­ing the sham of sci­en­tific whal­ing by the Japan­ese Fish­eries Agen­cy.

Not good enough. 

I love the prospects that this cam­paign opens up for cor­po­rate cam­paign­ing.   You´ve noticed, of course, how many cor­po­ra­tions the­se days are dress­ing them­selves in Green.  We´ve noticed at Green­peace, that´s for sure.  There´s an awful lot of multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions who are try­ing to look like us, sound like us, express their con­cern for the envi­ron­ment in glossy ads in which the only thing miss­ing is our logo. 

Well what if we hold them to that?  Take it at face val­ue.  Chal­lenge them to actu­al­ly DO what we DO rather than just put our colours on their web­sites and our pic­tures in their annu­al report?  And that means not only do they need to clean up their own prac­tices, like any good cor­po­rate cit­i­zen, but they need to  become active about the prac­tices of oth­ers. They need to speak out again­st things that are incon­sis­tent with those val­ues which they are adver­tis­ing them­selves as hav­ing.  In short, they need to take action to make those nice green sound bites come true.

McDon­alds shocked us when they became forest activists in respon­se to one of our cam­paigns again­st Ama­zon defor­esta­tion.  They didn´t just back away from a soy sup­pli­er who was cut­ting down rain­forest to plant soy, they sat down at the table with the pro­duc­er, oth­er buy­ers, and our­selves to try to work out a way to end the prac­tice alto­geth­er.  They wield vast pow­er, of course, and that kind of ini­tia­tive is hard to ignore.  One smart cam­paign judo move had put a sumo wrestler on our team.

Cor­po­ra­tions being goad­ed into advo­ca­cy is an excit­ing prospect.  Canon has no direct rela­tion­ship to whal­ing, but there’s a pub­lic expec­ta­tion, that they’ve built them­selves, that they would take a stand again­st killing endan­gered species.   And by doing so, they could have an immense impact.  In the same way Green­peace chal­lenges indi­vid­u­als to take action for a green and peace­ful future, we’re chal­leng­ing a cor­po­rate cit­i­zen to do the same. 

So come on, Mitarai-san, — get on the  right side of this one quick­ly, and Save those whales. 

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