I need to have a rant. I am sick of being patronised by Exxon and Shell. How stupid do they think I am? Let's start with the more traditional, old-school marketing technique being rolled out by Exxon and then move on to the even more sickening and condescending campaign by Shell. (And BP and Chevron, don't think you're innocent, you just obviously haven't paid for the prime-time spots on CNN and BBC World or I would have been tempted to throw up in my porridge by you this morning as well).
Ironically, this morning I had just switched over from a great feature on Climate Change on Sweden's TV8 to get my daily dose of sensationalist CNN, and an accurate if rather cursory weather report from BBC World.
The first "energy" ad I saw was from Exxon. "We're thinking about your future," they tell me. Gee thanks. "Like the reduced sulfur diesel we are making all across Europe, we can all benefit from that" they tell me in a friendly Scots-accented voice, superimposed over images of people riding a bus and breathing in all that nice, sulfur-reduced air. Yes Exxon, I'm so stupid I only consider "the environment" to be that which I can see in my immediate vicinity. I also don't think about how you might be producing this fuel beyond Europe. And that Scots voice... "I'm Dylan, and I work for Exxon," he says. Oh yeah? Dylan who? Are you sure you're not just a marketing ploy created by some cynical executive to make me believe that you're sincerely speaking to me on a personal level about the concern Exxon has for my future? Are you sure your name isn't Dylan because it's kind of associated with "Blowin' in the Wind" and romantic poets and has nice left-leaning connotations? Well, "Dylan", if that is your real name, I know about what else Exxon does. And your ad just leaves me with a sinking feeling that Exxon is spending far more money trying to make themselves look good than actually doing anything constructive about my future.
And then there's Shell. Shell doesn't even bother telling us how good they are, presumably for lack of material, so their marketing people have merely paid to "promote" other good deeds and distract us from their own behaviour. This morning they brought me the heart-warming story of a pharmaceutical company trying to wipe out disease in India. Awww. "Supported by Shell," a deep, comforting, manly voice intones at the end.
So let me get this straight... Shell is diversifying its interests? Or merely "supporting" this pharmaceutical company by cynically exploiting whatever good deeds it may have done (and I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here) for their own interests? But of course, we're too stupid to notice that aren't we Shell, and we'll immediately associate the humanitarian interests of other companies and their "dynamic people", as you describe them, and assign their values to the golden logo you sear into our brains. We'll conveniently forget that people in India are going to suffer a hell of a lot from climate change thanks to you, not to mention those pesky human rights abuses perpertrated by your company and continually reported on by Amnesty International, oh and the loss of biodiversity through oil spills and pipeline leaks. No, it's all ok, because you are bringing me life-affirming stories from the frontline.
I sincerely hope that one day in media studies classes we will look back and laugh at how energy companies tried to sell us package holidays on the sinking Titanic. And I really hope that Dylan guy is first in line.