[Video] Clean Coal PR Failure! Industry group leaves door open for eco-ridicule with Coal Carolers

December 11 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2010   Rating: 3

Clean Coal CarolersThe Coal Industry marketing team must not be aware of web activist culture and its tendency to repurpose and ridicule messages that people believe miss the target.

Here come the Clean Coal Carolers!!
The coal industry group America's Power has developed a series of Christmas Carols to themes related to clean coal.  Viewers pick the winter outfits for chunks of coal and then the Coal Carolers appear at the door! Singing Frosty the Coal Man, O'Technology

Now, I am not 'anti-coal'.  I'd rather see a globally focused, pragmatic conversation about cleaning up coal, rather than a battle between industry and activist groups.  I am pro 'reality check' to coals expanding role in China and advocate advanced carbon solutions like algae.

In fact, I'm obsessed with the social history of coal.  Friends can confirm that I carry around small piece of anthracite coal in my pocket just to 'show and tell'.  I never miss a chance to ask people if they know what it is.  9 out of 10 do not.  They look at it, rub it, smell it, say 'it's light'.  But have no idea what it is.  It's also shocking how many people do not know that coal is ancient biomass. I'd much rather the coal industry focus on science than spoofy web cartoons.

The Decision behind Coal Carolers?
It's generating buzz.  But it also opens the door for web creatives to turn the message against the lobby group.  Who is the target audience seeing chunks of coal sing like chipmunks?!   I can already see it spreading among web savvy audiences who are already skeptical of coal.   Are they being converted?

Try a campaign about Science, not Cocky Satire
If the coal industry was actually clean, I'd say-- fine, have your fun. But the industry is far from clean.  And there is no near term strategy to convince us otherwise. 

I support people who want to enable solutions for the coal industry.  Retrofit the world's factories with algae bioreactors to address carbon emissions.   But let's not ask people to dress up chunks of coal and sing along to silly tunes.   Teach people about science and bioenergy solutions.  Don't give them another reason to avoid the challenging conversation about coal's future.

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