Talk about covering your butt. For some time now environmental activism group Greenpeace has been running an aggressive campaign against Kimberly-Clark (KC), the $19-billion a year paper-products behemoth, to convince the company to adopt more eco-friendly practices. Greenpeace has alleged that the maker of Huggies and Pull-Ups has been buying wood pulp from ancient, clear cut forests in Canada and using it in paper products.
Today Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark execs announced a deal to reduce the company's use of old growth forests, according to The Washington Post. Kimberly-Clark's other brands include Scott, Kleenex, and Cottonelle, among others. The company's products occupy a huge chunk of shelf-space in the paper section of the average supermarket.
The capitulation by the paper giant is more evidence of how much influence environmental issues are having on the board rooms of big companies such as Wal-Mart and McDonald's. And Greenpeace certainly put up a fight, according to eco-blogger and journalist Marc Gunther. The group built an anti-Kimberly-Clark website (http://www.kleercut.net) and were arrested at the corporation's offices in Knoxville (Tenn.) while protesting.
Greenpeace persuaded dining halls at Harvard University and a handful of other colleges to cease purchasing all Kimberly-Clark products. The activists also stood down the Cottonelle "Be Kind To Your Behind" Puppy Bus while the vehicle was on publicity campaigns in New York and Philadelphia.
The deal validates the pressure tactics undertaken by Greenpeace but also underscores how savvy use of guerrilla protesting combined with internet tools allows protest groups to up the ante on large multinationals. Aside from the website, Greenpeace also produced a popular video detailing its gripes with Kimberly-Clark. Eco-blogs, like TreeHugger.com, piled on, keeping the issue on the front-burner. So the deal is no surprise as Kimberly-Clark realized it was getting a marketing black eye and losing millions of potential customers.
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