Monday, December 8, 2008

Rule: Don't Make Your Opponent's Case for Him

Awhile back, I mentioned the clever guys at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s “Clean Coal” campaign. With the caveat that so-called clean coal is not a product but a term d’art for a collection of technologies, I admired the campaign for its simplicity and appeal to the self interests of the audience.

Now comes The Reality Coalition with a response campaign. This is the spot currently burning up my cable news shout-fests:

It’s very clever and very well done. And it won’t change a single mind.

First, it uses the coal industry’s own language to make its point. How many times does the script repeat the phrase “clean coal?”

But what’s worse is the inside language and imagery. There’s the desert landscape, one assumes an allusion to a globally warmed future, but a good percentage of the presumed audience (including your humble correspondent) sees not the Great Plains of Al Gore’s nightmares, but a desert ecosystem that might just be under threat, too.

Finally, the coalition itself. It calls itself the Reality Coalition. Reality is a magical word for those with a certain shared political philosophy. The word Reality is a dog whistle.

Problem is, the ones who hear that particular whistle don’t really need the message.

Oh, yeah: they also don't let you embed the vid from their Web site.

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