You might have seen the ad below, called “Exxon Hates Your Children,” circulated this week.
“We all know the climate crisis will rip [your children’s] world apart, but we don’t care, because it’ll make us rich,” says the fake Exxon executive.
Two groups, Oil Change International and The Other 98%, rolled out the campaign this week and are trying to raise money in order to put the ad on television. It’s gotten a lot of attention in the last two days, including from Exxon, which called the ad “offensive.” So far, the campaign has raised more than $10,000.
The ad has two objectives. One is to draw attention to tax subsidies that go to profitable oil companies and try to influence the current fiscal debate. The other, which is an evolving part of a newish campaign, is to marginalize fossil fuel companies and strip their “social license.” Activists concerned about the environment have always demonized coal, oil, and gas companies in varying ways. But this is something slightly different. As the science gets more frightening and fossil fuel companies continue to ramp up their extraction of carbon fuels, climate groups are attempting to back these companies into a corner in new ways.
It’s an extension of the 350.org “Do The Math” campaign, which seeks to target the bottom line of fossil fuel companies by encouraging institutional investors to pull their money out of the sector. “These companies have lost their social license” by exacerbating the climate crisis, said campaign leader Bill McKibben. “This is a rogue industry.”
Expect more of this no-holds-barred communications strategy from environmental groups: