New Al Gore campaign applies ads, media for grassroots effort

WASHINGTON: The Alliance for Climate Protection is teaming with Al Gore on a new effort titled "We Campaign," which will use media outreach and advertising to drive initial interest.

WASHINGTON: The Alliance for Climate Protection is teaming with Al Gore on a new effort titled "We Campaign," which will use media outreach and advertising to drive initial interest. The $300-million campaign aims to build a grassroots movement to halt global warming, according to the communications team directing the launch.

The official kickoff was April 2, with the launch of print and television ads, as well as a new Web site, http://www.wecansolveit.org/. It was preceded by a 60 Minutes broadcast on March 30 , in which former Vice President Gore introduced the new project.

The show was Gore's first broadcast TV interview since winning the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2007.

An article in The Washington Post, as well as a press release issued the next day, helped to generate a flood of follow-on print, TV, and radio interest in the Alliance and campaign that "set the context" for the launch of the ads, said Brian Hardwick, director of communications for the Nashville, TN-based Alliance.

"We figured we had Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to build context around the campaign, so that on Wednesday, when people started seeing the ads on national broadcast [TV], they would know a little bit more about what they were seeing," Hardwick said. "[But] the hub of the campaign is really our Web site, which is designed to first ask people to join, and then give them opportunities to take all kinds of actions that make sense for them."

Overall, the campaign portrays global warming as a serious, but solvable crisis that affects people from every political party and walk of life. Initial campaign ads pair seemingly opposite types, like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and former House Speaker and GOP leader Newt Gingrich, or the Revs. Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton.

Many groups worked to develop strategy and messaging for the campaign and its site, including the Alliance; its PR agency, Glover Park Group (GPG); Gore's communications director, Kalee Kreider; and the effort's advertising firm the Martin Agency.

Gore contributed his earnings from both the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and the Nobel Peace Prize, to the Alliance. Additional funds were raised during the Live Earth concert held last summer, as well as from other nonprofit foundations.

Kreider noted that the "We Campaign" also benefits from the more than 2,000 people around the world that Gore has trained to give public presentations on climate change, similar to the one he gives in the documentary. These trainees serve as online representatives for the Web site, where visitors can get information on environmental-friendly practices. It also offers tips on how to contact media or legislators regarding global warming issues.

Both Hardwick and Jason Miner, VP of GPG, noted that although the launch of the campaign was able to draw on the media and public attention that Gore attracts, the advertising and the large amount of diverse partners supporting the project are what point to the effort's nonpartisan nature.

Such partners include the Blue-Green Alliance (BGA) - itself a partnership of the US Steelworkers union and the Sierra Club; the Climate Project; Earth Day Network; the Girl Scouts of the USA; Audubon; and the US Climate Action Network.

"In the end it's not Al Gore's project; it's going to be about the number and diversity of people we can get on board," Miner said. "If you look at the board of directors, it's at least half Republicans, so there's an effort to make this as broad-based... as possible."

BGA executive director David Foster said that participation by his group shows that global warming is both an issue and an opportunity for blue-collar workers, who could, for example, benefit from the emergence of new technologies in the realm of alternative energy. USW members' experience in lobbying and advocacy campaigns also apply to global warming-related legislation, Foster explained.

Participation by union members in the campaign will help to challenge the conventional associations that the public may have between global warming, and left-wing parties, Democratic politics, or elitist activists, he added.

"I think when you have steelworkers and Girl Scouts standing up in the same communities saying, this is a problem we need to solve together, that shows you just how transcendent this issue can be," Foster said.

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