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Oil Giant Touts Necessity of Oil for "Foreseeable Future," Yet Would Cut Back Refinery Expansion
Santa Monica, CA -- Chevron today announced a gauzy, Hollywood-slick $15-million ad campaign to improve its public image, a day after announcing a $15-billion buyback of its own stock. The investments are two poles of a corporate strategy to keep oil-related profits high while rejecting real commitment to a renewable energy future, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights and its OilWatchdog.org project.

The ad campaign launches Sunday with a warm and fuzzy 2.5-minute ad on the CBS "60 Minutes" show, declaring that "for the foreseeable future, our lives demand oil."

"This ad gives short shrift to renewable fuels and belies previous Chevron statements that the development of ethanol is an immediate reason not to invest in its current oil refineries," said Judy Dugan, research director of OilWatchdog.org. "Chevron's ads make it appear vaguely committed to clean energy, while its corporate executives use biofuels as an excuse to curb refinery capacity. The company is also buying back $15 billion of its own stock this year, which boosts Chevron's stock value but does nothing to improve its current business or create a renewable future."

In an interview with the Associated Press in April, Peter J. Robertson, Chevron's vice chairman, said in response to a question about possible new U.S. refineries, "Why would I invest in a refinery when you're trying to make 20 percent of the gasoline supply ethanol?" Robertson was referring to a Bush administration plan to encourage an increase in the use of ethanol in the fuel supply to that level by 2020.

Read the AP interview.

See the Chevron ad in link within Advertising Age story.

Much of the new Chevron ad is quick-cut shots of smiling people and happy families apparently employed by Chevron. It is obviously intended to portray Chevron as a happy member of the world family, said FTCR, rather than a defendant in multi-billion-dollar pollution lawsuits brought by peasants in Ecuador and by Nigerians over alleged human-rights violations, said the nonpartisan, nonprofit FTCR.

Read background on the lawsuits.

The new ads are a reversal from the most recent Chevron campaign, called "Real Issues," which featured cluttered executive desktops filled with sticky notes opaquely referring to oil company demands for freedom from regulation.

See ad and analysis.

"The 'Real Issues' ads were all too obviously aimed at intimidating any effort by lawmakers to rein in Chevron's federal corporate welfare payments or its gouging of consumers," said Dugan. "Chevron and the rest of Big Oil, having succeeded in gutting the federal energy bill of anything that might curb its profiteering, now aims to persuade consumers that it is a friendly corporate citizen. With gasoline hitting $3.00 again and no renewable alternatives at neighborhood Chevron pumps, motorists will have a hard time swallowing that."

Chevron's return to a public-image campaign is a more expensively produced rehash of an older campaign titled "People Do," said FTCR.

"That campaign also focused on friendly, helpful Chevron employees and their commitment to community and environment," said Dugan. "The campaign lasted for 20 years and was the very definition of greenwashing."

See more on the "People Do" campaign and on corporate greenwashing.

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For more background and information see our websites at: www.OilWatchdog.org and www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.