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  • This video is sponsored by Brilliant.

  • [Fossil Fuel Advertisements]

  • In a world full of advertising, fossil fuel companies are king. Despite overwhelming scientific

  • and public outcry, the oil and gas industry continues to pour climate change-inducing

  • gases into the atmosphere, and they can get away with it in part because these companies

  • have inundated the public with pro-fossil fuel messaging for decades. Through this propaganda,

  • dirty oil & gas giants like Exxon rebrand themselves as clean energy innovators on the

  • frontlines of finding some miracle solution to our climate change problem. But these public

  • relations campaigns don't exist in a vacuum, they've been crafted for and at times are

  • created by our information sources: newspapers. The Washington Post and the New York Times

  • among others are all publishing fossil fuel ads that seem to contradict their climate

  • reporting. A contrast that baffles me. So today, I'm going to dive deep into the long

  • history of fossil fuel advertising in our news sources to understand not only what influence

  • this industry has over our news, but also why this continues to happen in a time where

  • scientific evidence clearly shows that the fossil fuel industry is destroying our present

  • and our future.

  • In 1972, the oil and gas company, Mobil, bought some advertising space in the New York Times,

  • which, at first glance, is a relatively typical course to take for a company looking to brighten

  • its public image. The New York Times was widely read across the U.S. and so the logic went

  • that an advertisement could piggyback on that exposure. Except this wasn't your typical

  • ad. It didn't have the usual trappings of images, big text, and prices. No, Mobil was

  • trying to wage a different kind of war. The ad space they bought sat directly across from

  • the New York Times editorial pages and the advertisement they ran was a wall of text

  • made to mirror the opinion pieces. Essentially, Mobil was trying to hide its fossil fuel propaganda

  • by transforming an advertisement into an editorial. A marketing technique that would come to be

  • known as the advertorial. For over 30 years, Mobil, and then ExxonMobil, published hundreds

  • of advertorials in the New York Times. They used that space to spread doubt about the

  • validity of climate science and confuse the public about the best path forward for climate

  • action. In one ExxonMobil advertorial from 2000, the company writes, “Some argue that

  • the science debate is settled and governments should focus only on near-term policies--that

  • is empty rhetoric,” while in another from 1997, they claimthere is no consensus

  • on what constitutes 'dangerous levels' of emissions nor is there agreement on when,

  • where, and how best to reduce their impact.” This anti-climate action rhetoric ran despite

  • the fact that ExxonMobil's internal documents and research understood that fossil fuels

  • were overwhelmingly to blame for the global warming trend. In an assessment of ExxonMobil's

  • internal and external climate communications from 1977-2014, one study found that 80% of

  • Exxon's internal documents admitted that climate change was real and human-caused,

  • while only 12% of their public-facing advertorials did, with 81% of the advertorials actively

  • expressing doubt. So, as early as 1972, the New York Times acted as a bullhorn for ExxonMobil

  • to complicate and delay public action on climate change. But things have started to change.

  • In the age of social media and websites, the game has transformed. Those advertorials that

  • ran alongside the New York Times' op-eds are a thing of the past for Exxon. But The

  • New York Times hasn't cut ties with ExxonMobil's propaganda machine. They've done the opposite.

  • The Times is now making Exxon's ads themselves. More specifically, the New York Times marketing

  • studio, T Brand is. It's important to note here that according to the New York Times,

  • there is a large wall between what its brand studio creates and what its journalists write.

  • Indeed, The New York Times has published some brilliant climate reporting in the past couple

  • of years. But as a company, the Times are still aiding and abetting a fossil fuel agenda

  • by creating and running these ads. These campaigns take many forms, like ExxonMobil's algae

  • and biofuel research videos that use stop-motion animation, and a millennial-sounding narrator

  • to seem relatable, or a slick scrolling infographic about how Chevron is fueling prosperity in

  • the U.S. In most cases, like ExxonMobil's algae campaign, these curated ads greenwash

  • oil companies by painting them as clean energy and technological innovators, when in reality

  • these operations are just a minuscule part of their whole business. This is akin to cigarette

  • companies claiming that filters are the solution to smoking-related health issues. It's just

  • another way for fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil to continue business as usual without

  • having to own up to the consequences. And yet, as Amy Westervelt from the podcast Drilled

  • discovered, The New York Times brand studio will pretty much bend over backward to do

  • what a company wants: “Ad sales people start offering all kinds of other things. You could

  • place content they write for you in the climate section, you can peg it to key words like

  • climate change, and make sure it's a suggested next read on any related news story.”

  • So, while there is a firewall between the Times' journalists and its brand studio,

  • the problem is there isn't one for the reader. Not only is The New York Times perpetuating

  • the narrative of ExxonMobil as an energy innovator, but they are also blurring the lines between

  • advertisement and journalism. Again, Westervelt puts it best in her podcast: “In 2020, influence

  • doesn't look like an oil tycoon in a top hat showing up at your desk to twirl his mustache

  • and tell you to spike a story. It looks like readers being fed a bunch of oil propaganda

  • before, after and right next to your legit climate reporting.” And more and more, readers

  • struggle to find the difference between this kind of native advertising and actual reporting.

  • One 2018 study found that fewer than 1 in 10 readers recognized the test article as

  • advertising, while another 2014 study revealed thateven when native advertising is labeled,

  • a significant number of audience members may not perceive it as such.” In short, The

  • New York Times is disseminating this kind of native advertising throughout their brand,

  • which when it comes to fossil fuel companies interested in shaping the narrative around

  • climate change, could hinder much needed climate action.

  • But it's important to note that this isn't happening because the New York Times is a

  • sinister entity hoping to throw the world into chaos. The Times built a brand studio

  • and created these ads because it needs money, and the unfortunate truth is that fossil fuel

  • companies enjoy the enormous amount of wealth and power to supply that money. Ideally, large

  • news sources like The New York Times and The Washington Post will stop running and making

  • ads for such a destructive industry, but a chunk of their annual revenue is reliant on

  • integrated advertisements. In 2017, 20 percent of all advertising income for news media organizations

  • came from native ads. That being said there are similar sized news organizations that

  • are doing the work to purge fossil fuel influence from their pages. The Guardian announced this

  • January that it would no longer advertise or take money from fossil fuel companies.

  • showing that it is possible to continue to pursue essential journalism without the yolk

  • of the oil and gas industry on their back. This is the type of action that we need to

  • see from our news sources. The Guardian's blockade of fossil fuel advertising stymies

  • the massive ideological efforts of the fossil fuel industry. Essentially, they're muzzling

  • a dangerous narrative at its source. But the unfortunate truth is that we live in an economy

  • that pours much more of its money into a polluting industry than it does an investigative, truth

  • seeking one. An economy where to have long-form investigative pieces you also need to have

  • oil & gas ads running alongside it. But finding ways forward in journalism without the influence

  • of fossil fuels is essential if we are to truely tackle climate change. Because, at

  • the end of the day, the stories we tell and the ideas we seek not only inform our present,

  • but also they shape our future.

  • Many people are on the lookout for online math and science resources right now, and

  • whether you're a student looking to get ahead, a professional brushing up on cutting-edge

  • topics, or someone who just wants to use this time to understand the world better, you should

  • definitely check out Brilliant. It's an awesome course-based website and mobile app

  • that guides you through a range of different topics from computer science to math fundamentals

  • to cryptography. Skills which are essential for tackling the difficult challenges of a

  • changing climate. And Brilliant not only helps you master these topics, but it makes it fun

  • and intuitive. Take, for example, Brilliant's new course on the history of math, which uses

  • the power of storytelling to explain the original ideas behind imaginary numbers, prime numbers

  • as well as other important mathematical concepts.

  • If you're curious like me, want to build your problem-solving skills, or need to develop

  • confidence in your analytical abilities, then I'd recommend going to brilliant dot org

  • slash OCC, or click the link in the description, and sign up for free to learn something new

  • every day. As a bonus, the first 200 people that go to that link will get 20% off their

  • annual premium membership.

  • Hey everyone, Charlie here. This video, as always, was made possible by my patreon supporters.

  • They donate a couple of dollars each month to help me grow and build this channel so

  • it can reach an even bigger audience. Thank you so much to my patreon supporters and thank

  • you for watching! I'll see you in two weeks!

This video is sponsored by Brilliant.

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B1 US fossil fuel fossil climate fuel york advertising

The New York Times is in the oil business.

  • 5 1
    joey joey posted on 2021/06/13
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