Greenpeace’s Stale Sales Tactic Takes Aim at Food Service: The Rank’N’Spank

Greenpeace seafood sustainability rank'n'spank

Editorial by Lynsee Fowler, Communications Manager, National Fisheries Institute


From “prospecting” and cold-calling, to pitching and closing, every company does sales a little differently. And as evidenced by the highly-competitive business culture, some organizations sell better than others. It is, in the end, all about revenue.

The globally known brand Greenpeace, for example, is no different. But it has a painfully stale sales technique. With an annual budget of $300,000,000, Greenpeace is an international behemoth predominantly focused on bringing in money… and then bringing in more money. Yes, Greenpeace claims to be behind every green “victory” for the environment or the oceans, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find the group dedicates little if any time or resources to actual research and science that moves seafood sustainability forward.

Instead, they spend money producing fancy reports, erecting gaudy billboards, buying underwater cameras for music videos, and of course procuring plushy costumes for protests. The purpose of these efforts? Sell current and future givers on the idea that they’re a loud, if not effective, voice for the environment and keep the money coming in.

Greenpeace’s annual seafood sustainability ranking of brands, retailers, and now food service companies is a tired effort that gets almost no press and has no bearing on the real sustainability efforts these companies already engage in.

Yet, after receiving almost zero feedback from food service companies on its rank’n’spank efforts, instead of evolving into a new strategy to get donations – Greenpeace continues to push these rankings out each year, targeting the next part of the supply chain. Last year, they targeted food service companies for the first time, and they’re soon to release their second ranking of the group.

Just as mall-goers easily walk past salesmen and women at pop-up kiosks, most food service companies ignored Greenpeace’s request for information last year, and many have done the same again this year.

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There is no benefit for food service companies, or any others in the supply chain, to share their robust sustainability work with Greenpeace. If Greenpeace likes what they’re doing, they’ll claim that the pressure of their campaigns (remember the billboards, plushy costumes, and fancy reports they spend huge amounts of money on?) are responsible for unrelated commitments made by the companies. If Greenpeace disagrees with something a company is doing, they won’t have a conversation to learn more, they won’t dig into the science behind it; they’ll immediately bash the company and “fail” them in the ranking.

It sounds like the worst sales strategy in the world, right? Threaten and insult the companies you’re supposedly trying to engage with to partner on seafood sustainability? Take credit for the work these companies already do? But that’s the thing. Change is not Greenpeace’s actual goal, and the companies they rank are not actually the audience they’re selling to. With their new fancy ranking, packed with graphics and charts, they’re selling current and future givers. They’re trying to convince sympathetic (and often ignorant) benefactors that Greenpeace is making a difference, and they need more money to keep doing so. Every new ranking and promotion contains ever-present “Donate Today” messaging.

Lynsee Fowler, Communications Manager, National Fisheries Institute

When Greenpeace tries to sell this year’s food service ranking, current and potential Greenpeace givers should respond with a few questions before donating, starting with, “How much money has Greenpeace invested in fisheries research in the last year?” and “What expertise does Greenpeace have in food service sustainability anyway?”


To learn more about the National Fisheries Institute, visit their website.