Have You Hugged Your Oil Company Today?

Here in Oklahoma, we have the OERB, the Oklahoma Energy Relations Board and, according to its Web site, its job is to educate the public on the Oklahoma petroleum industry's contributions to the state. Its slogan -- the rather robust "Advancing our state. Empowering our nation" -- is part of its television campaign, where a spokesman talks of how the organization has gone into small Oklahoma towns, like Kingfisher, and cleaned up abandoned oil wells and drilling equipment. These spots show precious kids playing and seniors walking on land previously only inhabitable by EPA inspectors and lawyers who file class-action lawsuits. The message: without OERB, seniors and kids would be playing and walking in HAZMAT suits. Fair enough and the industry is doing work that should have been done years ago, but the spots are enough to give you diabetes.

This campaign started years ago with Susan Howard, the actress who played Cliff Barnes' sometime girlfriend on "Dallas," breathlessly telling us, "What you will learn in the next few months will change the way you think about the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma."



Ooooh ... a new way to think about oil producers.

Which brings me to ExxonMobil's "We're Drivers, Too" campaign. Featuring regular Exxon folk talking about their place in the community, the commercials inform us that even though the company is the mother of all energy companies, we're all in this together. At one point, we hear, "Life's on the move. It's unpredictable. It's stressful and crazy one day, fun and carefree the next. How do we know? Because we're drivers too.  Like you, we spend a big part of our lives in our cars. So any tip that makes it easier, innovation that gets us there faster, or story that makes us laugh at it all - is welcome."

Make us laugh!?

Okay, did you hear the one about how the Supreme Court decided Exxon only has to pay one-tenth of the original judgment against it for spoiling 1,200 miles of the Alaska coastline?  It's a real knee-slapper.

Wanting to make huge conglomerates more human is not only understandable, it's the business, but when ExxonMobil posts billion dollar quarterly profits and the OERB cleans up messes left from independent producers from years ago and then both run ad campaigns looking for a group hug, forgive me for not wanting to sit around the oil rig and sing "Kumbaya." 

With gasoline approaching $5 per gallon, the fact is, we're no longer in this together. It's us against them.

And they're winning.

The spots look great, though, and the kids in Kingfisher do seem to be enjoying their new baseball field.

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