April 15, 2015 was the 5th birthday of Other 98%!
To celebrate, our team got together and put together a list of our top 5 favorite moments from our first 5 years. How many of these do you remember?
5. Target Ain’t People
One of our very first actions back in 2010 was Target Ain’t People, a musical flashmob to call out Target for its donation of $150,000 to the anti-gay, anti-worker candidate for Gov. of MN. A quarter of a million people pledged to boycott Target, and we took to the aisles to show them what people power looks like. This video has over 1 million views on YouTube, and still going strong!
4. Banker Bonus Season
By December of 2013, the foreclosure crisis was showing no signs of slowing down. But on Wall Street, the party never stopped: we learned that big banks had set aside $91 billion just for bonuses alone that year. So we decided to launch a campaign calling them out: Banker Bonus Season.
Nearly 70,000 people signed on to our petition, which called on bankers to give that $91 billion in bonuses to the people made homeless by the foreclosure crisis they created. We gained national media coverage from Democracy Now!, The Guardian, The Huffington Post and more.
Here’s our friend and comedian Negin Farsad attempting to deliver a “golden” flash drive loaded with our petition signatures to Brian Moynihan himself (that’s the president of Bank of America):
3. The “Exxon Hates” Trilogy
In 2013, we partnered with Oil Change International to create a satirical ad called “Exxon Hates Your Children,” taking aim at Exxon’s blatant disregard for the global consequences of their business model.
The ad – which featured a phony Exxon “spokesman” proudly discussing all the ways Exxon works to hurt children – gained some attention on YouTube and when it aired on cable, but the fun really started when we tried to buy air time before President Obama’s State of the Union: Exxon not only filed a cease-and-desist to keep us off the air, but also issued an earnest, point-by-point rebuttal of the ad’s blatantly satirical script.
Naturally, Exxon’s efforts backfired when the ensuing controversy blew up and garnered a ton of media coverage on major outlets like Gawker, Ad Week, and Huffington Post, eventually landing us on the front page of Reddit. In 2014, we followed up with Exxon Hates America and Exxon Hates the World. Even today, if you google “Exxon + children” you’ll see us right there on page 1.
Watch all the ads here.
2. Free the Press
In May of 2013, we launched a campaign that, two years later, we still can’t believe worked out the way it did.
It started when we heard that the Koch brothers were exploring the idea of purchasing the Tribune Company’s publishing arm, which owns eight major newspapers, including the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and the Orlando Sentinel. At a time when media ownership is already highly concentrated into the hands of a wealthy few, this was disastrous news. But what could anyone do? It’s not like we had enough money to buy it ourselves… right?
So began the crowdfunding campaign with the biggest goal in history: $660 million to outbid the Koch brothers for ownership of The Tribune Company.
We knew from the start that it was a long shot, but for us it was a strategic win/win: if we lost, we still got the opportunity to sound the alarm about the Kochs, start a conversation about media ownership, and educate the public about what a community-owned newspaper could look like, all at the same time. If we won, well… we could hand the Tribune Company over to the public, creating a shake-up that would have been unprecedented in the world of news media.
In the end, more than 2,500 donors contributed to the campaign, and we received national coverage in CBS News, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Mashable and many other outlets, calling widespread attention to the Koch Brothers’ secret bid. The best part? All that attention must have been spooky, because the Kochs ceased their campaign, ending the threat of the worst mass media buy-out in modern memory.
1. Shell No
In 2015, O98 threw down on what turned out to be the biggest, boldest, most successful campaign we’ve ever worked on: #ShellNo. We joined a ton of awesome “kayak-tivists” in blockading Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic drilling rig as it attempted to leave Seattle’s port to go drill in the Arctic. After two actions in Seattle and another blockade in Portland, Oregon, we won: Shell left the Arctic early and empty-handed, and the White House cancelled the auction of Arctic drilling leases for the next two years.
Those were our top 5 moments – feel free to share yours in the comments, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s to another 5 years of calling out villains, elevating heroes, and just generally getting shit done. Happy Birthday, O98!