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Fight the Power

Thanks to the Internet, information and anger can spread at the speed of light. Don't like a certain company's environmental policy? Not getting a good return on your investment? All it takes is a few well-chosen clicks of the mouse to find yourself at the head of a virtual mob. Here are a few guerilla..

Thanks to the Internet, information and anger can spread at the speed of light. Don't like a certain company's environmental policy? Not getting a good return on your investment? All it takes is a few well-chosen clicks of the mouse to find yourself at the head of a virtual mob. Here are a few guerilla campaigners-some working outside the shareholder system, some inside-who have used the new transparency to bring business to heel.


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Buy (Less) Crap

Mission At once a satire of and alternative to Bono's ballyhooed (RED) brand, Buy (Less) Crap encourages consumers to forgo ethically branded products and give directly to charity.Tactics An open letter to (RED) CEO Bobby Shriver demands more accountability and ways for (RED) buyers to give at the point-of-sale. Less tactful are Buy (Less)'s "(RED)ICU(LESS)," "POINT(LESS)," and "MEANING(LESS)" ad spoofs, shot in (RED)'s solemn black-and-white style.Results Facing heat from Buy (Less), and from critics who claim (RED)'s donations are small compared to their ad expenditures, (RED) has steppedup talk of its low overhead and tangible results.

Daniel Seth Loeb

Mission The founder of Third Point LLC, a New York City hedge fund, Loeb seeks to buy shares low, sell them high, and do whatever it takes to move the price in the meantime.Tactics Unlike most traders, who operate behind the scenes, Loeb strikes by writing blistering public letters to CEOs.Results Loeb's unorthodox shaming method seems to work. Third Point has reportedly reaped annual returns of more than 20 percent since 2002.

The Yes Men

Mission By impersonating spokespeople and putting up doppelganger websites, the Yes Men lie about their identities to reveal truths too brutal for corporate P.R.Tactics Yes Men have successfully posed as spokespeople for Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, and the World Trade Organization.Results Numerous flacks melting down in helpless despair as their evil Yes Men twins reduce their client's talking points to ashes. As WTO spokespeople, for example, the Yes Men advised corporations to buy off U.S. voters.

Adbusters

Mission Adbusters seeks a "mental environment" free of advertising, and an end to sweatshop labor and mindless over-consumption. In other words, it seeks a hostile grassroots takeover of globalization itself.Tactics With ad spoofs, anti-branded sneakers, and a very slick and pretty magazine, Adbusters uses familiar branding vernacular to achieve its anti-consumerist ends.Results While Adbusters hasn't stopped consumers from filling the coffers of Nike, McDonald's, and other corporate brands, it has sold more than 25,000 pairs of its own Blackspot sneakers, suggesting a strong market for unbranded dissent.

Harbinger Capital Partners and Firebrand Partners

Mission These hedge funds want to see some return on their stakes in The New York Times Company, the stock of which fell by 20 percent last year.Tactics The funds, which together own about 19 percent of the Times Company's common stock, threatened a proxy fight, which could have ousted the Ochs-Sulzberger family's chosen board of directors.Results The Ochs-Sulzberger ownership group relented, granting their hedge-fund antagonists two seats on the Times Company's 15-member board.
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