Orangutans Swing into Action Against Nestle
by Rolf Skar
April 15, 2010
One of the biggest days of the year for corporate CEOs is the annual shareholder meeting. It’s their chance to trumpet successes, inspire investments in their company, and look forward to the year ahead. For Nestle executives at their shareholder meeting today, things were anything but rosy as Greenpeace activists took the company to task for buying palm oil linked to the destruction of endangered orangutan habitat.
The day started with a surprise at the German headquarters of Nestle. A giant screen atop a cargo truck appeared outside the building displaying real-time Twitter messages from people all over the world urging the company to protect Paradise Rainforests. Greenpeace activists also redecorated the building itself, deploying a giant banner that covered four stories of offices. Oversized messages from countless rainforest supporters streamed across the digital screen all day long.
The day didn’t end there. At the Nestle shareholder meeting in Switzerland, huge numbers of displaced orangutans showed up and conducted a mass "die-in" in front of crowds of onlookers. It’s safe to say that the free Nescafe coffee Nestle was passing out tasted a bit sour at the sight of orangutans being dragged across the concrete by police.
Participants seeking a distraction on their smartphones and computers were surprised when they logged onto a free wireless network only to find a webpage encouraging them to send a message to Nestle about rainforest protection and orangutans. It’s amazing what you can do with technology these days! 😉
Inside the venue, things got even more interesting. As Nestle board chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe and Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke addressed the crowd, they had to deal with competition for the spotlight. Undetected activists dropped two banners from the rafters in front of the stage reading: "Give the orangutans a break!" The banners remained in plain view during keynote speeches — a constant reminder to executives, investors and the press that Nestle has a growing problem with its links to rainforest destruction
We know the company is feeling the heat — the company has made public statements in an attempt to blunt our campaign. But they need to hear loud and clear that empty words and half measures won’t keep rainforests standing. Business as usual needs to end if we are to save orangutans and their rainforest homes…and we’ll keep campaigning until that happens!