There’s an old story about the late great Julian Simon going to an oil facility in Alaska and being given a tour. The flack kept touting the installation’s “environmental benefits” so much that Simon eventually shouted in exasperation, “What do you produce here, oil or environmental benefits?”
For quite a while now oil companies have taken a similar approach to their advertising campaigns. Since long before the Gulf Oil spill, we’ve been complaining around here about the idiocy of BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” campaign. It’s like widget companies touting how ashamed they are to make widgets.
These days the commercial that’s getting my goat the most is this Chevron commercial, which is part of their “Human Energy” campaign (No they’re not drilling for humans). The message is “Science is cool.” That’s great, because you know who kids today look to for guidance on what’s cool? Big multinational petroleum companies. It seems like every episode of iCarly is about how Sam, Carly and Gibby can’t wait to find out what ExxonMobile is wearing or what songs are on Citgo’s iPod.
Still, my biggest gripe isn’t so much the content but its ubiquity. The thing is just on the air constantly, at least on my cable system.
A couple years ago, I made the case for oil companies embracing their evil image. Specifically BP should move beyond “Beyond Petroleum” to “Badass Petroleum.” Maybe Chevron could run with the idea? “We’re Chevron: We don’t care if kids can make robots. We Make It Rain Benjamins for Shareholders.”