Now Playing: Gas Industry Trade Group Takes Message to the Movies
Think everyone goes to the movies just for fun? One trade group tries to pull double duty with education and entertainment to further its mission and counter what it views as a negative image in a major motion picture.
Using celebrities to push out messaging is a typical marketing tactic for companies that have the means. But when a celebrity appears to embody the opposite of what you believe your business stands for, you may feel the need to react accordingly, which is just what the gas industry trade group Marcellus Shale Coalition is doing.
The group has released a 15-second commercial to run before the movie “Promised Land,” which stars Matt Damon as a representative of a natural gas drilling company looking to use a controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in a farm community. The technique has been criticized as harmful to the environment.
The commercial, which is set to run for the first two weeks after the movie’s release last Friday, will run only in movie theaters in Pennsylvania, where the group is based. The spot leads viewers to an educational website on natural gas sponsored by the coalition.
See the commercial here:
The ad was created to get in front of any questions created by what the group sees as the movie’s negative portrayal of hydraulic fracturing (it’s been labeled as an “anti-fracking” film in various media outlets), and to open up discussion about the industry. The coalition’s spokesman, Travis Windle, explained it to ABC News this way: “Recognizing that this purely fictional Hollywood film would increase focus on our industry, which supports 240,000 jobs in our state, we said, how about we do in-theater promotions of this website where some folks may have additional questions?”
The chief executive of Focus Features, which produced the film, has a different name for the coalition’s effort, according to the ABC News report: propaganda.
Whatever the advertisement is being called, it’s an interesting example of engaging the public and welcoming conversation by a trade group that has seen its fair share of controversy in the past.
Has your association ever been faced with negative portrayal of your industry in a high-profile place? How have you handled it?
A scene from "Promised Land." (Focus Features/Participant Media)