Thursday, April 11, 2013

Exxon hates this TV ad

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Over the top? Hyperbole? Perhaps. But it seems clear to me the video is a satirical way of attacking Exxon Mobil.

Exxon doesn't like it.

A news release from the group that made and wanted to air the video in paid commercial time said the ad was scheduled to be aired on several network affiliates in Little Rock this week until Exxon objected and then the ads were declined.

“Exxon is and will always be a bully,” said David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International. “Instead of engaging their critics appropriately, Exxon uses its billions to hire high-priced lawyers to make scary-sounding but unsupported legal claims to suppress criticism. It’s a window into how they have preserved billions in taxpayer handouts for their industry for so many years.”

Exxon has distributed this defense of itself, calling the ad defamatory. Exxon employees don't hate children, it says.

Oil Change International defends the ads here as satire and parody.

I asked a spokesman for Exxon if the company indeed had objected to airing of the video in Arkansas. The response:

Hell Max
The advertisement is offensive, nonsensical and fails to meet any basic standard of accuracy, so we requested that the TV stations reconsider airing it.
Regards
Alan

Alan T. Jeffers
Media Relations Manager
Exxon Mobil Corporation

UPDATE: I talked with Mike Vaughn, general manager at Channel 4, one of several stations the Oil Change group had contacted about the ad. He said the station had never agreed to run the ad because "it didn't meet our standards."

On the jump read the full news release from the group backing the ad:

Amidst reports of media intimidation at the site of the Mayflower, Arkansas tar sands oil spill, ExxonMobil has now taken to bullying local Little Rock television stations into canceling the airing of a satirical but cutting advertisement critical of their business practices.

See a copy of the ad here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXV6FW9Vg0I

The five-figure crowd-funded ad buy was to be part of an ongoing campaign — ExxonHatesYourChildren.com — being run by three progressive organizations using satire to target the more than $10 billion per year US taxpayers spend to subsidize dirty fossil fuel companies like Exxon.

See Exxon’s cease and desist letter here: http://bit.ly/12OKreE

See the coalition’s response here: http://bit.ly/16Prdb4

The ad was set to air on Arkansas ABC, NBC, and Fox affiliates this week, but was pulled moments before airing by the stations when Exxon threatened legal action.

“Exxon is and will always be a bully,” said David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International. “Instead of engaging their critics appropriately, Exxon uses its billions to hire high-priced lawyers to make scary-sounding but unsupported legal claims to suppress criticism. It’s a window into how they have preserved billions in taxpayer handouts for their industry for so many years.”

This is the second time Exxon has bullied this advertisement off the air. In February, Exxon sent a cease-and-desist letter to Comcast only hours before scheduled airings during State of the Union news coverage.

The move by Exxon marks the latest in a series of reported strong-arm tactics undertaken by Exxon to censor reporting in the days following the Mayflower tar sands oil spill.[1]

"Folks are tired of Exxon bullying the media in Arkansas trying to cover their latest spill - but going after TV stations over 30 seconds of ad time? They're going to learn they can't silence the truth: Exxon's dirty oil and corporate welfare threaten our children's future."

The groups have responded to the requests from the TV stations for a rebuttal with a letter from their legal representation, outlining the clear history of protected speech that the advertisement rests upon.

“This ad has been funded by citizens from across the country who know what corporations like Exxon really stand for. Our government is providing tax breaks to companies like Exxon to spill oil in our backyards. It’s time to stand up to Exxon and allow this message to be heard,” said Drew Hudson, Executive Director of Environmental Action.

The ads were crowd-funded through the Louder.is platform, which gives regular citizens access to the powerful channels of advertising.

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