Finnegan's Take

Call it a spoof, call it a stunt, but Greenpeace‘s cheeky ‘Special Edition’ of the International Herald Tribune was a masterclass in attracting attention in an age of information overload.

The enviro-lobby gave out 50,000 copies of its fake 8-page IHT in capital cities across Europe today, handing them out at train stations and in central business districts.

A copy was thrust under my arm as I emerged in a half-sleep from the Schuman Metro station in Brussels this morning. “Markets soar on news of Copenhagen climage deal” screamed the headline on the left-hand column of front page. Suddenly I was totally awake. Although it still took me a minute or two to realise the edition was post-dated to December 19, 2009, and had been produced by Greenpeace.

From front to back, it’s a communications masterpiece: the headlines, the cartoons, the crossword, and even the advertising are in on the joke. (One of the ads is for an IKEA flatpack home wind farm; another announces an urgent product recall for cars.)

And for those who prefer to consum their news online, there’s a detailed website with a few extra gags/predictions that can’t be found in the print edition.

It was all timed perfectly to coincide with the arrival of EU leaders for a European Council summit in Brussels this morning – a vision of what might be.

And before you could wonder whether handing out 50,000 newspapers is envionmentally friendly, Greenpeace had issued a statement wryly noting that this special edition of the IHT was printed on recycled paper with ink from vegetables. Naturally.

You don’t have to sign up to everything Greenpeace believes in to agree that this was an excellent concept, expertly realised. Perhaps it’s worth keeping a copy until December 19th and comparing it with the reality.

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  1. It certainly made a real impact here at the office.

    What’s next? A newspaper website from 2039, brought back to us via some sort of Web wormhole, reporting on a daily basis the disastrous results of the decisions being taken in 2009? That’d be salutary.

  2. I especially like the BP ad.

    BP: “We especially thank you, the ones who repeatedly risked arrest, for showing our government leaders that your survival was more important than our short-term profits”

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