Paris protests, Oatly’s reputation and a Zero-waste store

Authors: Kate Savin, Jece Shunmugam
  • Reading time: 5 min.
  • Posted on: September 1, 2020

This week we’re doing things a bit differently. Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the bad and the brand to watch in the world of social impact communications and campaigning. We’ll be highlighting the campaign against femicide in France, Oatly’s biggest PR disaster yet, and our favourite local, zero-waste shop. 


On Sunday night, protestors plastered the names of 122 women murdered by men on a wall in Paris. This memorial is part of a wider, year-long campaign fighting against France’s femicide crisis, using simple messages to highlight the gendered violence women in France face.

The campaign started a year ago when the “les colleuses” activists placed anti-femicide messages across Paris, using a few words to convey the stark details of each victims’ story. Examples include “She leaves him, he kills her”, “In France, femicide is committed every two days” and “Céline, victim No. 19, was killed by her husband.” 

The power of this campaign lies in its ability to powerfully communicate the brutality that women in France face in just a few words. It also creates a sense of relatability: the average girl or woman on the street reads these messages and feels like it could be them, their mother, or their sister. 

And by taking the message to the streets of Paris, they are successfully raising awareness of the issue to a wider audience. Social media often exists in an echo chamber, speaking to people already in the know, so using public spaces allows the movement to reach more people, keeping the topic in the public eye. You can support the movement by donating to their ‘pot’ here, which helps them continue to protest.


Oatly was a little known niche brand until a couple of years ago. Now it can be found in every supermarket and environment-conscious household. This weekend their crisis comms team was in overdrive defending the news that they’ve sold 10% of Oatly to Blackstone, a private equity firm with a murky history. 

The scandal revolves around the fact that Blackstone is probably equal to the devil for Oatly’s core customer base. Their CEO is Trump’s largest donor and friend, and last year it invested in a Brazilian company contributing to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. There’s no doubt Blackstone is at odds with Oatly’s image of a sustainable brand. 

Oatly’s response has been firm. Responding to the avalanche of criticism, they said:  

‘We’re convinced that if we want to create real change for a more sustainable future, global capital needs to be directed towards more sustainable investments.’ 

We aren’t Trump fans at Shape History, and there’s no defence for supporting companies that destroy rainforests. At the same time, finding blemish-free funders when you’re going after a global market is undeniably a challenge, with many firms holding less than favourable companies in their portfolio. In fact, reportedly less than a third of private equity firms globally are even committed to environmental or social sustainability. Now there’s a scandal. 

If that hasn’t convinced you, how about making oat milk yourself? It’s surprisingly easy and Trump is nowhere near the oat industry, as far as we can tell.


This weekend we visited BYO, a zero-waste shop in Nunhead. The first of its kind in Southwark, BYO has already expanded to fill two shops on the highstreet since opening in 2018. That’s great news for what is still a young industry – shops are popping up around London, from Peckham to Walthamstow, but they’re not exactly as prevalent as Pret, so it’s promising. 

Selling everything from organic sunscreen and tampons to loose spices, grains, cereal and oil, all you need to do is bring as many containers as you want to fill and get scooping. Think of it as pick’n’mix for adults, but with personal scoopers and mandatory face-masks to minimise the COVID-19 risk. Oh, you can even find an alternative to Oatly – the up-and-coming Minor Figures – in their milk machine. 

BYO’s founder, Laura Hipkiss, works with local producers to reduce packaging, and is trying to promote a circular economy as much as possible. Admittedly, it’s not as cheap as Aldi and the household products are definitely on the expensive side. But hopefully, with the recent launch of Loop’s refillable product partnership with Tesco, refill culture is on the up and we’ll all be no-waste shopping before long. Till then, those that can afford it – get on down to Nunhead! It’s worth the bike ride.