Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A NatGas Ad from Life Magazine – the Issue with Jane Fonda on the Cover…

Along with noticing the cover photo of Jane Fonda, titled “Busy Rebel,” on the April 23, 1971 issue of Life Rachel unearthed in her old bedroom closet, I found this American Gas Association print ad.

What interests me is that you rarely see an organization like this tabbed as a consistent brand advertiser. Yet the AGA has stayed true to its product, promoting natural gas to this day as “Clean. Efficient. Safe. Energy.” The headline and visual of this ad is just one element of a very long-running advocacy and marketing program.

(It’s in good company, even though some other ads in the issue represent brands that are gone with the wind: American Motors, TWA, Pan Am. There are plenty of stayers. In Life’s four-decade-old pages are advertisements for long-timers Chevrolet, Volvo, Gilbey’s Gin, Jarman Shoes and Kretschmer Wheat Germ among many others.)

The natural gas advertising program has worked well over the years, I think, building recognition and acceptance of natgas as a responsible fuel among consumers particularly. As part of the API ad program, for example, a current energy efficiency ad is here.

These days though, industry ad emphasis has shifted to American job creation in a big way; and to lining natgas up with renewable energy. Tim Sullivan has tied natural gas to renewables and said on the Great Energy Challenge blog that “Natural gas and renewable energy are domestic energy resources in abundant supply throughout the US. They are a secure domestic supply of energy.” So there’s both “natural” and “energy security” in the mix right now.

All good stuff, right? Natural gas wins. Well, no – it’s hard to escape the current demonization of natural gas extraction among certain public and environmental stakeholder groups. As in leave our Marcellus shale alone. This is one more demonstration of “dueling advocacies.” Without a national energy policy, we all end up losers in the 40-year struggle symbolized by this clean-air ad.

BTW: As far as Fonda’s brand is concerned, it has undergone a whole lot of change over four decades. The Life story about her comes 14 months before she shows up in Hanoi, hanging out with the North Vietnamese and sitting on one of the NVA’s antiaircraft guns. Anyone remember that? Talk about demonization.

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