Wow04 May 2005
Backdrop: in 1984, the Union Carbide (now a subsidiary of Dow) pesticide plant in Bhopal leaked forty metric tons of methyl isocyanate, killing around 15,000 people and injuring hundreds of thousands, making it probably the most deadly industrial accident ever.
How to make a company look bad:
On December 3, 2004, the twentieth anniversary of the disaster, a man claiming to be a Dow representative named “Jude Finesterra” was interviewed on the BBC. He claimed that the company had agreed to clean up the site and compensate those harmed in the incident. (video) Immediately afterward, Dow’s share price fell 4.2% in 23 minutes, for a loss of $2 billion in market value.2 Dow quickly issued a statement saying that they had no employee by that name —that he was an impostor, not affiliated with Dow, and that his claims were a hoax. BBC broadcast a correction and an apology. The statement was widely carried. 3
I have to say, that is a pretty damn awesome prank. Evidently, before this occurred, there was a documentary made about these guys in 2003. I’ve added it to our Netflix queue – it looks pretty interesting.