Robert Brulle, Melissa Aronckzyk, Jason Carmichael
Fossil companies use marketing campaigns to influence political decision-making and defuse negative press, research by Brulle et al shows. The article 'Corporate promotion and climate change: an analysis of key variables affecting advertising spending by major oil corporations, 1986–2015' was published in Climatic Change.
“Sophisticated propaganda campaigns designed to manipulate public and political elite perceptions of major oil companies are a major barrier to meaningful climate action. Climate action advocates must recognize and address this factor to achieve success.”
Advertising by fossil fuel companies is a ubiquitous element of modern political life. Promotional campaigns in the service of a corporation’s position toward environmental issues such as climate change are prevalent in the oil and gas sectors, where corporate image is seen as a valuable asset in managing risk, controlling negative media attention, and overcoming resistance by antagonistic civil society groups. This article assesses advertising expenditures by five major oil and gasoline companies for the time period 1986 to 2015. We examine four major factors that may influence spending on advertising by the oil and gas sectors: (1) the overall reputation of the oil and gas sector; (2) congressional attention to climate change; (3) media attention to climate change; and (4) a series of control variables including major oil spills, the publication of major climate change reports, overall public concern about climate change, GDP, and oil prices. We find that the factors that most influence corporate promotional spending are media coverage and congressional attention to the issue of climate change.