“Ethical Oil” broadcasts its message in the U.S.
But is an advertising campaign on Fox News targeting the right audience?
On Tuesday I received an email that caught my interest from the folks at ethicaloil.org. In the email, Kathryn Marshall wrote:
I am the spokesperson for ethicaloil.org – today we are airing a TV
ad in the United States that the government of Saudi Arabia tried to
have banned in Canada.
There’s no need to rehash the ethical oil thesis on this blog – it’s well-known to oil and gas junkies – but I took notice of the email because the “our oil is morally superior to Saudi Arabian oil” argument hasn’t worked very well thus far. It had no impact on the U.S. delaying a regulatory decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 presidential election, and that decision was made at a time when the U.S. economy isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders.
So I wanted to know if Marshall was discouraged at all by the recent turn of events and whether the ad campaign in the U.S. was maybe coming a little too late to be of any use.
Not so, says Marshall, a University of Calgary law student and blogger. She acknowledges the ethical oil movement is a small one, but it’s also in its early days and given enough time, Marshall believes the message will resonate with Americans. “We are getting traction,” Marshall says. “We’ve been getting tonnes of attention. People do listen to the argument and it intrigues them.”
But there’s a difference between intriguing someone and convincing them what you are saying is right. We’ve touched on how the the ethical oil argument (and the federal and Alberta government’s thirst to develop the oil sands) is chipping away at Canada’s “good guy” image.
And I don’t think ethical oil arguments are going to convince undecided Americans that Keystone XL and other pipelines designed to ship Alberta crude south must be built at all costs. These people are not interested in comparing one oil-producing nation’s human rights or environmental record with another. For a wealthy country with a democratic tradition like Canada, I think Americans who are undecided on this issue expect more from their northern neighbors than they do from a Third World petrostate like Nigeria.
Incidently, Marshall says the ethical oil TV ads will run on Fox Business Network in the U.S. (Note: In an earlier version of this post, the network was incorrectly identified as Fox Business News.) Given that Fox is notorious for taking a conservative, right-wing view on all political and business matters, one wonders how effective this campaign will be. Middle-of-the-road and left-leaning Yanks that ethical oilers must reach don’t watch Fox newscasts and so they won’t be watching these ads. Ethical oil is preaching to the converted here.