A group of six female Greenpeace activists started scaling the outside of the Shard, western Europe’s tallest building, at 4am yesterday.
The lead climbers were ‘free climbing’ (scaling the building without assistance) but fixed safety ropes as they progressed. They were carrying a huge work of art in backpacks – which they had hoped to install upon reaching the summit. However, they ran out of time and instead held up a Greenpeace flag.
Why did they do it?
Shell is leading the drive of oil companies into the Arctic, investing billions in its Alaskan and Russian drilling programmes. The campaigners chose to climb the Shard because it towers over Shell’s three London offices, including the oil giant’s global headquarters on the south bank of the Thames.
How did Greenpeace cover it?
The climbers were streaming live from helmet cameras, with bird's-eye views of their ascent being broadcast live at www.iceclimb.savethearctic.org. Commentary from Greenpeace employees explained what the protest was about and provided facts about how the climbers had been preparing for the ascent. At times, more than 13,000 people viewed the video live.
The charity also hoped it would get 31,000 sign-ups in support, but had achieved more than 66,000 at the time of publication.
The specially designed microsite included short biographies and pictures of the climbers and explanations about why they got involved.
Members of the public were encouraged to tweet and post links to the campaign website on Facebook, using the hashtag #iceclimb.
What’s the thinking behind the coverage?
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, says: "Since its inception more than 40 years ago, Greenpeace has been at the forefront of finding new ways to deliver our campaign messages. Today is an example of how we have integrated traditional Greenpeace ways of campaigning with modern techniques – so as our climbers have made their way up the Shard, we have beamed back the live footage of their progress to tens of thousands of people, many of who have signed up to our campaign to defend the Arctic."
Third Sector verdict:
This is a really well-executed and thought-through media campaign. The charity has maximised coverage of the climb by using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to spread the word, a strategy that saw the #iceclimb hashtag trend on Twitter for most of the day and the majority of the major newspapers covering the protest.
The commentary to the video was entertaining and provided interesting insight and background information. The only negative is that the live stream was quite grainy at times, making it difficult to make anything out.