I heard an ExxonMobil commercial on the radio the other day (note: the word ExxonMobil is included in the spellcheck dictionary for Microsoft Word 2010). The ad was in the style of a public service announcement, and the gist of the message was that you and I could help conserve the world’s energy if we would only check the air in our tires on a regular basis. Apparently, part of the reason for peak oil is that I’m running with a chronically underinflated left front tire.
This message is very clearly modeled after the Keep America Beautiful Campaign, one of the most successful corporate sleight of hand propaganda strategies of all time. Now we all know that litter is a serious environmental problem, one that requires our continued vigilance. And, no, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the over-packaging of consumer products, the accelerating propagation of fast-food chains, or the mass-production and distribution of soft drinks in single-serving containers that are destined for thousands of years in a landfill after they complete their three minutes of service. During the 1970s, when the Keep America Beautiful Campaign was launched, we learned to direct our efforts toward disposing our wrappers and containers properly, while the factories that produced them continued to fill our air and rivers and streams and lakes with less visible but incomparably more hazardous material and Pepsi and Coke avoided costly state bottle-return legislation (note: Pepsi and Coke are also in Word's spellcheck).
A very similar kind of redirection is being attempted by Exxon with their Keep Your Tires Filled commercials. In addition, ExxonMobil comes across as a company that truly cares about the future of our natural resources. If you have a few moments and are in a place where shouting obscenities Tourette’s-style at the computer screen is not likely to cause problems, check out the ExxonMobil company webpage—especially their section on “corporate citizenship” (I refuse to defile my blog with an active link to it). You can learn all about such things as how extractive technology is actually good for the environment and how ExxonMobil is improving the lives of indigenous peoples in Canada.
Note: megamachine is not in Word’s spellcheck dictionary.