Third Party & Independents Archives

Oil Industry Powerhouse Pretends To Go Homebrewed

You may or may not have seen Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvienent Truth’. Whether you have, or have not, is not the issue. The issue is the recently revealed truth on Exxon’s attempt to attack the film.

A video entitled 'Al Gore's Penguin Army' which belittles Gore and the film has been circulating around the net recently. This video looks to be homebrewed, but it is not it was created by DCI Group, a public relations and lobbying firm whose client lists includes oil powerhouse Exxon (1). This revelation was first discovered when the Wall Street Journal emailed the creater of the video and through further research discovered the email was sent from the DCI Group's office (2).

1. http://www.guerrillanews.com/articles/2468/Spin_of_the_Week
2. http://www.digg.com/politics/Parody_of_Al_Gore_film_tied_to_ExxonMobil_lobbying_firm

Posted by Richard Rhodes at August 8, 2006 3:51 AM
Comments
Comment #173989

So, Richard, your Inconvenient Truth is that Exxon attempted to attack the film but that is not factually accurate, is it?

In fact, what was discovered is that a PR firm that Exxon has used made the video so you make the ‘jump in logic’ to assume that it was done by the order of Exxon, since they are one of the companies on the PR firm’s client list.

Even though the article you reference to back up your assertion states clearly that Exxon stated they did not have any knowledge of the video, didn’t fund it and didn’t order it to be distributed.

I think that you would have gotten more traction to have just reported the story as it was, but your attempt to state, as fact, that Exxon was behind it just brings the whole article into question. In fact, I think it might point to a greater issue, the predjudice of the author.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 8, 2006 5:32 AM
Comment #174002

OK - here’s my company’s “slick fake homebrewed video.”

It’s had over 1 million hits and been posted on over 40 web sites… and it’s completely fake (it takes work to make stuff look this crappy.)

http://www.guzer.com/videos/bra_problems.php (the quickest site I found by googling the video)

One of our client’s makes bras… do you think it might have helped that just after the video was released they released a tagless bra. HMmmmm - do you think we got paid for this by them…???? Naw, that would be inconceivable.

Posted by: tony at August 8, 2006 8:16 AM
Comment #174046

I watched that clip and it’s nothing but poorly made satire. Who cares who funded it?
If oil companies fund arguments against the global warming hoax it doesn’t invalidate the arguments if they are factual. This clearly isn’t an argument of any kind, it’s just a silly cartoon.
I thought it was pretty stupid though I did laugh at the David Spade/Heather Lear reference.

tony,
Great clip. That was funny.

Posted by: traveller at August 8, 2006 1:12 PM
Comment #174047

Rhinehold,

Your critique is almost semantics. Exxon pays the firm to lobby their issues, and the firm created an attack ad. Who cares if Exxon specifically paid for the video, or if it was the firms idea to lobby this way? The end result is the same. Big energy lobbying in a disgraceful way that people everywhere should be disgusted with.

The “Al Gore is boring” thing got a lot of traction. You remember that boring idea of saving money by putting into a lockbox and investing it? Saving money??? Booooring! Evidence in the form of charts showing the world is in danger? Charts are boring!!!! What a boring guy. What happened to this country?

What I really found reprehensible was the end of the clip, which suggests that Al Gore is saying fixing Global warming would require crazy, impossible solutions. That’s not what he says at all. In the movie he has several concrete, easy suggestions.

For instance, why are our carbon dioxide emissions ridiculously higher than other nations? Why are our standards lower than China’s were in the mid 80’s? Why when California exercises its right to raise emission standards sued by oil companies? If the answer is business, then why is it that the most successful car companies all come from countries with emission standards much higher than our own? Don’t we want to sell our cars globally?

I can’t believe the only argument against this is… Boring! It’s in books by professors called scientists. Super boring! Books suck dude!

In this country there is a temptation to believe the truth must be in the middle for all political issues, but there is no “middle” for a position like creationism versus evolution. We let science guide us. In the movie, Gore points out that amongst the scientific community there is very little disagreement about whether or not global warming is real and we are causing it. It’s stupid popular magazines that report the truth must be somewhere in the middle.

We need to reign in politicking and lobbying, which is in danger of becoming “advertising”. Food ads are held to a higher standard of presenting factual information than political ones and that is wrong. When the scientific community is almost unanimously declaring a fact, there should be no doubts in people’s minds of the truth.

Posted by: Max at August 8, 2006 1:35 PM
Comment #174051
Your critique is almost semantics.

Sorry, I prefer that facts be used and not inferrences and innuendo. To suggest that because a PR firm that Exxon (and several other companies) hires put out a schlock video (and it was pretty bad, no better than a ‘you’re a poopie-face’ vid that addressed no real issues) they are responsible for that video is asinine.

The article could have dealt with the facts by detailing them, instead it states clearly at the beginning something that is not proven and is clearly denied by Exxon simply to either paint with a brush or get ‘shock’ value.

And then you end your comment with the line

there should be no doubts in people’s minds of the truth

and the only conclusion I can make is that only the facts that YOU deem important are the ones that matter.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 8, 2006 2:11 PM
Comment #174062

1)This video is most decidedly meant to deride and undercut a popular movie that made an influential point on Global Warming.

2)Such a video has more impact coming from the little guy, who has no conflict of interest to undercut credibility or to make the video look obnoxious and small. (I would still consider it such, after seeing it, but due to different reasons)

3)The company that made this, DCI, has conflicts of interest on this matter, because their bills are paid by the big energy companies.

4)They had the choice to acknowledge this video as their own, or to present it as an orphan, bereft of any connection to them.

5)Knowing that response to their propaganda would be more positive if it was presented as the work of an individual, they concealed their connection to its production.

6)Such concealment indicates disrespect for the viewer. Instead of creating and marketing their own public answer to Gore’s movie, they tried dishonest means to gain credibility and word of mouth with the audience.

7)Why would they resort to such means if they believed they had the more effective argument? Only a person or group with issues cheats when they’ve got good facts and arguments on their side.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2006 3:41 PM
Comment #174068

Just a word of warning… this is a huge under taking from PR and Ad Agencies. These spoof and “caught on tape” web videos are quickly replacing PR campaigns. I would be immediately suspect of videos on the web that have any potential to sell product or influence political debate.

I’m guilty as hell - I’ve been involved with 3 so far - although they concern women’s underwear, so there’s not as much a stake… I guess. The bra video (linked above) was a monumental success for a rather odd “grass roots, anti-bra tag” campaign. They even had a protest rally march led by Paula Abdul… it’s really very silly. We were also slated to tape their underwear & bra fashion show, but that got pulled to another agency. (DAMMIT!!!!)

Basic thought here - look behind the web video to the motives before believing anything is real.

Posted by: tony at August 8, 2006 4:13 PM
Comment #174074

Tony,

We also have to start suspecting photojournalism now, don’t we? What was a very uncommon practice during the time of the SF earthquake (they did doctor a major photo at the time to represent that the major damage was from fire and wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be) it appears to be so much easier now with Photoshop and journalists with agendas.

Thankfully when found out Reuters immediately fired the guy, but how many have slipped through unnoticed and how many other news outlets (on either side) are turning their heads to the practice?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 8, 2006 4:36 PM
Comment #174075

Be very very wary. Even extremely slight tweaks to something, just to enhance it’s impact a little, is done very routinely. I was amazed at the Rueters photo that was “doctored.” Come on, I have interns that can do a better job than that. Look at the clouds from the burning in the doctored image - it’s a repeated segment of the original. I thought it was a joke at first… it’s really a bad attempt at doctoring.

Posted by: tony at August 8, 2006 4:48 PM
Comment #174099

First as some have already talked about and was my first thoughts when hearing about this video, is that this could be a widespread phenomenon in upcoming years. Its very likely we will see more and more companies, campaigns, organizations, pr firms, and lobbyist agencies making such films and not taking credit for them thus trying to trick people into thinking they were just made by some random individual and not by an organization with a clear agenda.

More specifically to Rhinehold I offer you this hypothetical:
It’s the 2004 election okay Karl Rove writes articles published all over the country but signs the name Anonymous, it is later found out that the author was Karl Rove, when Bush is asked if he knew about this he said he didn’t but it was clear that Rove did it to help his client Bush, which is the case also with DCI Group and Exxon. So?

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at August 8, 2006 7:22 PM
Comment #174111

Richard,

So, you can’t say in your hypothetical that Bush ordered Rove to do it. Which is exactly what you did in your article. And you are then attributing the motives of Rove, which may be nefarious or not, that would remain to be seen, to Bush who has no idea that this occured. It’s similar to the outing of Plame, if it was done by Libby because of a perceived injustice by the CIA as it appears it was, how on earth can you hold Bush responsible for that?

I never said it was ok, I never said it was a good thing. I stated that the video was atrocious.

But you can’t say that Exxon ordered or directed it to occur, that’s misrepresenting the facts. And it’s one thing to do IMO in a comments section of an article, but I would like to have seen a factual representation when stating facts and a better identification of what is your opinion. It’s scary how an offhand comment that is written as fact by a ‘writer’ can be found years later as a hardened fact when there was no evidence behind it at all….

And in this case in specific there is no way to show any evidence that they did this for Exxon or if they did it because they felt it was something that they wanted to do on their own.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 8, 2006 8:44 PM
Comment #174150

Rhinehold,

So you are saying that even though Exxon payed money to this lobbying firm they are not responsible whatsoever for how it goes about lobbying and zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sorry, fell asleep. If you are going to make distinctions like that you cannot expect the rest of the world to follow ;-)

Posted by: Tom at August 9, 2006 1:24 AM
Comment #174152

Tom, If you had a lawyer on retainer and it was discovered that that lawyer was pushing hard for legislation in your local senate for the reinstituting of Jim Crow laws though a proxy, can we say then that YOU were responsible for his action then?

It could be said that he was representing your interests, even though you did not tell him to or even knew about it.

So, what’s the difference… hmmm?

I know that there is a DESIRE to be able to make leaps of facts like this but I don’t think it’s very logical.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 9, 2006 1:38 AM
Comment #174153

Tom,

Btw, I’m sorry to see that a logical examination of facts bores you, perhaps politics is not a topic you will find interesting to you in the future?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 9, 2006 1:42 AM
Comment #174174

I have to def. agree with Tom on this one. Trust me, I know the blood of Ad Agencies… and you only have one fish like Exxon, and everything (EVERYTHING) revolves around that one client. You would never even consider doing something like this without their approval. You see, if you produced something like this without Exxon’s approval and they took any heat at all (any assumption that they were involved) Exxon would be gone for good.

Unless you read somewhere that they have changed agencies… then you can easily guess how this was put together.

Posted by: tony at August 9, 2006 7:09 AM
Comment #174211

Tony’s right. Friend of mine runs a big ad agency with a Fortune 500 co as a main client.

Nothing, - I repeat - nothing will leave that agency if it has anything to do with the core business of that client before it has been approved by that client. Nothing.

Posted by: Josh at August 9, 2006 11:22 AM
Comment #174254

Rhinehold-
It’s called plausible deniability. Somebody in the oil company says “This movie’s giving us a hard time in public opinion. I’d sure like to see something done about it.”

Of course, he never says, go play some dirty tricks or anything incriminating like that. They just don’t protest or look into things to make sure that such means are not employed.

The point is, these people know what they’re paying for, and so do the people being paid, so nobody needs to explicitly say anything.

This is how Bush works as well, unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because many times, his advisors keep reports from him about things he’s supposed to know about, supposed to be informed of, and which would help him do his job. I think it should be made clear that you are responsible for what your agents say, so you better keep them in line if you don’t want the tar from their brush to slime you too.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2006 1:56 PM
Comment #174375

“So, Richard, your Inconvenient Truth is that Exxon attempted to attack the film but that is not factually accurate, is it?”

I agree. You have no way to prove that exxon is responsible. You should have been more honest.

The article clearly states who is responsible and I haven’t seen them deny it. The article also questions exxon’s role and they deny it.

You jumped to conclusions on this one.

Posted by: Tom D. at August 9, 2006 8:18 PM
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