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Private Eye increases pressure on Asia Pulp & Paper

The pressure is being turned up on our old friends at Asia Pulp & Paper.

As reported on the blog a couple of weeks back, and many times in the past, the company is engaged in a desperate 1990’s style PR battle to stop big corporate customers cancelling supply contracts in the face of an ever-growing body of scientific and campaigner evidence of deeply nefarious activities in what remains of Indonesia’s rainforests.

Despite spending a fortune on dodgy public relations and ever-dodgier lobbying (see this excellent New York Times graphic for details), the firm is attracting more and more rightfully negative media attention.

Despite the dangers of the web, for some campaigners, the increasingly intelligent Google search function enables anyone searching to see what APP is really doing in less than a second. Click here to see for yourself.

No company wants this kind of search result on Google. Except, it seems, APP.

The firm seems to be masochistically engaged in reputational suicide.

This is alongside the PR company, Cohn & Wolfe, who will now go down in public relations history as the firm so desperate for money it would even work with APP whilst other large PR firms walked away.

This is not a good long-term strategy for when C&W pitches to APP’s former customers for work! This is particularly true given how much their name is now going to come up, in perpetuity, on the internet for dubious PR practices.

The latest media outlet to highlight the APP story is the best-selling UK magazine Private Eye, read by everyone who is anyone from the Prime Minister and UK CEOs downwards.

The Eye points out that:

“Deforestation champion Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is up to its old green-washing tricks, assisted by its PR firm Cohn & Wolfe, part of Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP empire.

APP’s managing director of sustainability (sic), Aida Greenbury, this month unveiled a new website, Rainforest Realities, which is designed “to provide a transparent and open forum for our stakeholders around the world to talk about the wide range of opportunities, challenges and issues we face together… We look forward to joining the conversation with you and hope that through this site, we can give you a window to see what is really happening every day within APP, as well as within the communities we serve in Indonesia’s rainforests.”

Desperate stuff. The reality, as everyone knows, is that APP’s impact on Indonesia’s rainforests is a disaster for trees, peatlands, endangered species and communities.

The new site is basically a blog where APP people and paid “independent” advisers post banalities about protecting jobs while ignoring the main allegations that have been made against the company for years by NGOs, customers and the media. Appropriately, the “biodiversity” and “eco innovation” categories were empty at the site’s launch.” (end quote)

Private Eye goes on to point out that APP represents a major personal risk to WPP’s CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell, given his public support of rainforest protection and various videos he has made for rainforest protection projects, including those supported by Prince Charles.

This kind of accidental hypocrisy, if not fixed, is of course perfect grist for a campaigner’s mill.

The story they will highlight: The CEO of WPP says he supports rainforest protection, whilst his firm is paid by the principal destroyer of indonesian rainforest to spread mis-information at best, and downright lies at worst.

Even for a successful, likeable and popular CEO such as Sorrell, that’s going to be tough to shrug off.

In other APP/Greenwashing news, APP and its PR advisers, according to the New York Times have been channelling money to self-declared “NGOs” such as the highly dubious outfit “World Growth“.

The organisation, brainchild of a minor former Australian politician (who still uses a political/government title whilst not in office), is very active on the meetings circuit at the moment.

It appears to be a one man outfit comprised of Alan Oxley. Oxley also has a consulting outfit, ITS Global, which APP paid to ‘audit’ Greenpeace’s research, and unsurprisingly, find fault with Greenpeace.

In the video linked above, Oxley says his firm is a technical consultancy. But World Growth proclaims him as a trade expert on its website. Must be a hard worker. He has some history as an anti-environmentalist.

I’m reading World Growth’s new “report” at the moment. It claims companies working on sustainability and corporate sustainability have got it all wrong and need to re-assess CR.

I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and hazard a guess that the reports ‘findings’ will chime almost exactly with the priorities of Asia Pulp & Paper and their advisers.

More on the report in another post.

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