The panacea for every crappy product, and criticized corporation: advertising. Hey, look how many people run MS Windows on their computers, even in these days of OS X and Linux. Form over substance. So, makes perfect sense that the oil industry can spend a minor fraction of a percent of their obscene profits convincing the public everything is just groovy.
The Oil Industry Calls on an Image Expert - WSJ.com : For two decades, industries facing image problems have turned for help to a Virginia-based market-research shop founded by President Reagan's former pollster, Richard Wirthlin. The company, formerly called Wirthlin Worldwide and now part of Harris Interactive Inc., has shaped multimillion-dollar campaigns for embattled products from plastics to bread to milk.
Now it's going to bat for Big Oil
In January, the oil industry will launch its first-ever major advertising campaign, scrambling to salvage a reputation suffering amid high gasoline prices and concern about fossil-fuel dependence. After this week's Democratic takeover of the House, the industry may face a more hostile political scene, threatened with stricter tax laws and with deeper resistance to the industry's desire to drill in new places.
Individual oil companies have long used advertising to boost brand loyalty and to counter environmentally related criticisms. The American Petroleum Institute, the oil-and-gas industry's Washington-based trade group, says its new campaign is a broader effort to “educate” consumers and policy makers about how the energy industry works. The industry says its research shows that the more people know about energy, the more likely they are to support the industry's Washington agenda.
Red Cavaney, president of the API, has long relied on market research by Wirthlin. Over the years, the petroleum institute has floated occasional ads based on that research. But last fall, when the Gulf Coast hurricanes sent gasoline prices soaring -- and, with them, public fury at Big Oil -- the institute decided it needed to do far more. It rolled out a few ads intended to tamp down calls for punitive action against the industry. And it put some staffers on what amounts to damage-control duty, flying around the country to meet with reporters, chambers of commerce and other groups. Now the institute has decided to ratchet up that effort into a full-fledged, open-ended campaign that includes print ads created by the Edelman public-relations firm's advertising unit, Blue Worldwide.
and don't get caught thinking this is a knee jerk response to the 2006 election:
Beating up on the oil industry has become a bipartisan pursuit. Indeed, industry executives say the Democrats' control of the House may prove less important than the fact that neither party controls Congress by much. That means both parties are likely to continue attacking the industry to score political points.
Yet the oil industry retains clout. Pouring in tens of millions of dollars, oil companies helped defeat an initiative on Tuesday's California ballot that would have hit oil companies with an “extraction fee” on every barrel of oil pulled out of that state.
A main goal of the API campaign will be to persuade policy makers that today's high energy prices are the result not of any conspiracy by oil companies, but of the thinning cushion between global energy supply and demand. So, the campaign will argue, the government should reject calls to slap industry with higher taxes. Moreover, the government should make it easier for oil companies to drill in the Rocky Mountains and should allow drilling in places now off-limits, including swaths of watery territory off the country's east, west, and Gulf of Mexico coasts.
Yet the call for new drilling will be couched in a softer endorsement of steps to address the energy crunch, from efficiency to alternative fuels.
That message is “probably the gateway for gaining the supply of oil and natural gas in the Rockies and the Gulf coast,” Ms. Statler told the conference. “I know and you all know that you're in the oil and gas business,” she said. “But the fact of the matter is there is just a driving, overwhelming desire” by Americans “for the industry to start diversifying” beyond fossil fuels.