3. Kimberly Clark Australia reaction to Otways campaign
During this time, there was suspicion among Otway conservationists that Kimberly Clark had sent a few spies to infiltrate OREN to see what was going on.
In Oct 2006 , it was relealed in a ABC TV 4 Corners documentary that Amcor who at the time owned 50% of Kimberly Clark Australia, had engaged company employees to spy on the activities of community groups that where trying to stop native forest logging. This included OREN and the Otways forest campaign.
However for OREN, spies were never going to be a threat to the Otway forest campaign as the whole Kleenex consumer awareness campaign was based on an open disclosure strategy. There was nothing unlawful or wrong with the promotion of environmentally friendly products that do not involved the destruction of biodiverse native forest. OREN viewed the presence of spies as a positive indication Kimberly Clark were indeed worried and that the Otway forest campaign was making progress.
3.1 Kimberly Clark reaction to conservationists
The following timeline highlights Kimberly Clark’s response to the actual consumer awareness campaign.
31 November to mid March 1997
14, 15 March 1997
After the protest at the Kimberly Clark office in Melbourne consider any proposals from the environment movement.". See Kimberly Clark letter 28 May 1997 (pdf)., Kimberly Clark began correspondence with the National Union of Students (NUS) requesting a round table meeting with Kimberly Clark, conservation groups and forestry bureaucrats to '
NUS on behalf of the conservationists wrote back to Kimberly Clark in support of OREN's refused to not take part in dialogue until Kimberly Clark showed some "goodwill" rather than produce insulting Greenspeak publications. See NUS letter 12 June 1997 (pdf).
Kimberly Clark wrote back to NUS in a letter that indicated a level of contempt and arrogance towards OREN. However Kimberly Clark made a point in this letter they would exit the Otways in the year 2000. See Kimberly Clark letter 17 June 1997 (pdf).
3.2 Supermarket reaction to retail market campaignJuly 1997
The first Kleenex supermarket action was organised in Townsville QLD by students attending the Students for Sustainability Conference at the James Cook University.
The supermarket protests were conducted in a manner that deliberately avoided any inconvenience to shoppers. During the protest all the Kleenex and other Kimberley Clark products were taken off the shelves and put into trolleys. Trolleys were not taken near the checkouts as that would clog them up and become an inconvenience to both the staff and shoppers at the supermarket. So trolleys full of Kleenex products were wheeled to the back of the supermarket and abandoned. When protestors were asked to leave the store by management, they politely left.
Shoppers were amused and interested in the protest and took information flyers explaining why the protests were occurring.
Despite this non-aggressive peaceful action, the Woolworths Statewide Queensland supermarket manager decided to deliberately misrepresent the protestors as aggressive and disruptive on live radio with no evidence.
Interestingly the supermarket spokesman (Burnie Brookes is now CEO of Myers) attempted to protect the Kleenex brand by not mentioning the brand name in public. However when the conservationists got the right of reply to refute claims made by Woolworths, the conservationists could mention the Kleenex brand name as many times as possible.
Hence the aggressive position taken by the Woolworths supermarket towards protestors backfired as it caused considerable Kleenex brand name exposure in both radio and TV talkback. The supermarkets (and probably Kimberly Clark) learnt from this and developed a different response to the next supermarket protest is discussed below.
This strategy by the supermarkets worked quite well to protect the Kleenex brand name with little or no media interest in the capital of Victoria, Melbourne. However newspapers in regional cities ran the story. So there was some mixed success from both sides.
3.3 Kimberly Clark Australia reaction to industrial market campaign
OREN worked with the sale executives from alternative supplies of tissue paper made from 100% recycled paper to try and get industrial users of tissue paper to switch from kimberly Clark brands to 100% recycled fibre brands. This incuded lobbing local government municipalities and University Campuses.
Student environment groups were successful in encouraging the purchasing officers from various university campuses to stop buying tissue paper products from Kimberly Clark. There were numerous successes that started to add up to many $100,000’s of dollars in lost sales for Kimberly Clark. OREN was told by one university purchasing officer, that on the same day Kimberly Clark was contacted and told their contract to sell product was to be cancelled, Kimberly Clark they would fly a sales executive from their Sydney head office to Melbourne to try and turn things around. Usually they failed.
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