“Energy Citizens,” a front group backed by the American Petroleum Institute (API), has launched a new national ad campaign in advance of the 2012 elections to try and make it sound like substantial public support exists for increased oil and gas drilling known as fracking. The print and TV ads, coordinated by the Edelman PR firm, are titled “I'm an Energy Voter.” They feature supposedly average people looking into the camera and saying “I vote …for American domestic energy” and promoting the industry's goals of opening up more land to drilling. The ads link increasing drilling to job creation, economic prosperity and national energy security. (PRWatch has previously reported how, in fact, the increased fracking for “natural” methane gas has actually led to dramatically increased exporting of America's natural gas.) The industry's ad also drives viewers to the website “Vote4Energy.org.” The homepage of the website give no indication that Energy Citizens is a creation of the oil industry, as CMD has previously reported. API CEO Jack Gerard insists the effort is “not an ad campaign…It's a conversation with the American people.” But when API put out a casting call to recruit volunteers to star in the commercial, a Greenpeace activist showed up. When he started to read his lines, he veered off-script and decried the “lies and influence peddling” of the oil industry and he was quickly shown the door.
The incident gave environmental groups advance knowledge of the industry's campaign, allowing PolluterWatch a project of the environmental advocacy group Greenpeace, to launch a spoof ad mocking the campaign at almost exactly the same time the industry's ad campaign started. The fake ads feature actors posing as oil industry executives and saying things like, “I vote … for spilling, um, I mean drilling in the arctic,” and “I vote for prosperous American liberty jobs for freedom.” The spoof ad drives viewers to a remarkably similar-sounding and looking website, Vote-4-Energy.org that features the logo “Vote4Oil.org” and the tag line, “Polluting the Future.”