Pies, protests and personalities

Holly Ellyatt and Avi Mohan
Sepp Blatter

When it comes to protesting, sometimes a banner, march or megaphone just doesn't cut it.

Although some believe peaceful demonstrations are the only acceptable way to protest, others believe in taking more "direct action" to drum up publicity for their causes and opinions.

In CNBC's "Pies and Protests" slideshow, we take a look at the more memorable and messy protests that have taken place over recent years across the world.

'Fur is Dead'

Paul Morigi | Getty Images Entertainment| Getty Images

Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) launched one of the most high-profile campaigns against the use of animal skins with its "Fur is Dead" campaign in 2008.

Kim Basinger, Christy Turlington and Pamela Anderson were among the celebrities who bared all to show their support, starring in ads under the banner "I'd rather go naked than wear fur."

The campaign persuaded retailers such as J.Crew, Wet Seal, Forever 21, Eddie Bauer and Ann Taylor to stop selling fur in their stores. It also prompted top designers such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger to ban the use of fur in their designs, according to PETA.

Rainbow Warrior

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Environmental campaigners at Greenpeace International have made the most of its fleet of boats — including the Rainbow Warrior, Arctic Sunrise and Esperanza — over the decades to "save planet Earth and protest the global commons," according to the group's website.

Greenpeace activists have made numerous protests against oil companies over the past few decades, boarding exploration ships or blocking oil tankers with their own boats. While some countries have been lenient towards the protests, some demonstrators in Russia have been arrested and jailed for months.


A protester jumps on the table in front of the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi during a news conference in Frankfurt, April 15, 2015.
Ralph Orlowski | Reuters

The monthly press conference of the European Central Bank (ECB) took an unexpected twist in April 2015 when a woman showered confetti over ECB President Mario Draghi.

Not usually known for excitement, the regular question-and-answer session after the bank's interest rate policy meeting was interrupted when a woman jumped up on the desk in front of a startled Draghi.

Shouting, "End the ECB dictatorship," the woman threw confetti and a pile of papers up into the air, as security guards leaped to restrain her.

The pieces of paper were letters by the woman listing her complaints about the central bank, saying that those affected by the bank's policies were "not the chips in the ECB's gambling game."

Bill Gates gets pied

Bill Gates
Getty Images | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Bill Gates, the founder and chief executive of Microsoft, joined the ranks of many high-profile personalities that have been pied in the face.

The incident happened in 1998, when the tech billionaire was on his way to meet business and government leaders in Belgium. The incident was orchestrated by Noel Godin, a Belgian who has gained notoriety for throwing pies at various well-known individuals.

Godin was quoted as saying that the Gate pie-throwing was an act "against hierarchical power."

Sepp Blatter's money shower

Sepp Blatter

In July 2015, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was showered with fake banknotes by British comedian Simon Brodkin, who interrupted a FIFA conference with a large stash of fake bank notes, claiming to represent the 2026 North Korea World Cup bid.

As he was being led away by security, Brodkin showered the banknotes all over Blatter and parted by saying "Cheers, Sepp – it's all there."

This comes after a period of huge controversy surrounding FIFA, with Blatter linked to bribery allegations regarding the awarding of the World Cups of 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar respectively.

As a result of the scandal, Blatter will step down from the top job at FIFA and many top officials were arrested and charged with corruption and bribery.

Shell Lego protest


Environmental campaigning group Greenpeace helped end a long-standing partnership deal worth £68 million ($106.2 million) between Danish toy maker Lego and oil giant Shell in 2014. The deal had allowed Lego to sell its toys at Shell petrol stations in 26 different countries.

Greenpeace launched a campaign against this partnership titled "Everything is NOT Awesome."

The campaign consisted of a YouTube video, which depicted Lego arctic animals in their natural habitat. The characters are disrupted by a Shell platform which starts drilling, causing oil to cover the entire sea with the animals submerged beneath.

The video received over 7 million views and over one million individuals signed an online petition, successfully pressuring Lego to end the contract.

Murdoch gets pied

Reuters TV | Reuters

In 2011, comedian Jonathan May-Bowles threw a foam pie into the face of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

The attack occurred after the 80-year-old billionaire gave evidence to U.K. lawmakers about the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed his company News Corporation.

Murdoch's then-wife, Wendy Deng, valiantly stepped in to defend her husband, leaning over him to punch the protester.

May-Bowles, a part-time comic known as "Jonnie Marbles", said his attack was in the century-old slapstick tradition of protesting against powerful figures like Murdoch.

The judge who sentenced May-Bowles failed to see the funny side and gave the comedian a six-week prison sentence for disrupting a parliamentary process that "conducts itself with dignity and in a civilized fashion."

Enron CEO gets pied

Jeffrey Skilling gestures as he testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill, February 26, 2002.
Getty Images

Enron was one of the U.S.'s biggest energy and commodities companies before a huge accounting scandal led to it file for bankruptcy at the end of 2001.

This sparked outrage among the company's investors, employees and U.S. politicians, when it materialized that fraud and money laundering had been kept hidden.

After the company folded, many injured parties may have wanted to throw a pie in the face of the company's then-chief executive, Jeffrey Skilling.

However, one activist had a go in June 2001, before the scandal was revealed.

Activist Francine Cavanaugh hit Skilling on the head with a piece during a speech in which as he defended energy companies against the accusation that they created and profited from an energy shortage.

Skilling wiped away the pie and carried on with the speech. Cavanaugh, a member of an international pie-throwing group called the Biotic Baking Brigade, was detained but not arrested.

Once the Enron scandal broke, Skilling testified that he didn't know anything was wrong at the company. The judge in the case begged to differ and Skilling was eventually sentenced to 24 years and 4 months in prison. In 2013, the sentence was reduced to 14 years.