04 May 2012

Most brilliant billboard ad campaign ever.

OK, for starters - climate change is real, it's caused by people, and the only real question is what should we do to stop it.  This really is the consensus from the scientific community, no matter what some politically or financially motivated people may tell you. If we lived in a society and had a media that cared about facts and reason and understood the dangers of misinformation, this would basically be the beginning and end of this discussion.

However, we live in America, so we get this:

Yes, this is part of a billboard campaign brought to you by our dear friends at the Heartland Institute.  In all my years I can think of no other billboard campaign in history that is so brain-searingly stupid and yet so utterly brilliant at the same time. Honestly, I look at it and all I can do is applaud.  I'm not even going to link to it because I really don't have to.

It's brilliant because it demonstrates a complex understanding of what it takes to make a splash in today's media and society.  We are rewarded when we go all-out, over-the-top, insert-lousy-metaphor-here crazy in public. And let's face it - this is Ted Nugent meets Octomom crazy.

It also demonstrates an understanding of where the money is.  While some reputable larger companies are pulling out of groups like Heartland after facing scrutiny when Heartland does... well... stuff like this, the Heartland guys know there are a couple of billionaires out there who will pay any price for anything that really pisses off liberals (and by extension here, scientists).  Now that the guys who almost singlehandedly bankrolled the Gingrich and / or Santorum campaigns are looking for something to do, up pops this idea.

Finally, it demonstrates an understanding of how to score "earned" media.  Millions of people will see these billboards - but only on computer screens. Stories about the campaign have been written by outraged liberals in the Guardian (UK), The Hill, The Daily Beast, The American Prospect, and countless blogs and tweets and Facebook posts.  Scientists and liberals will be giving this cheap stunt free publicity for weeks. And that's exactly what Heartland was hoping for when they thought of this.

Of course, this strategy probably isn't all that sustainable.  But then again, maybe it is. If you don't need facts or reason to get your point of view across, and all you have to do is annoy liberals and scientists who just plain NEVER go on offense, why would you ever stop?

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