ATA gets activist help with its SOS

The Air Transport Association and AOR Xenophon Strategies created Stop Oil Speculation Now in July 2008 to push for legislation to stop speculative trading and lower fuel prices.

Client: Air Transport Association (Washington DC)

Agency: Xenophon Strategies (Washington DC)

Campaign: Stop Oil Speculation Now

Duration: January 2010 – present

Budget: $261,092 for 2010; $580,000 total since 2008

The Air Transport Association (ATA) and AOR Xenophon Strategies created Stop Oil Speculation Now (SOS Now) in July 2008 to push for legislation to stop speculative trading and lower fuel prices. David Castelveter, VP of communications at ATA, says early focus was on education, building a coalition of 85 businesses, associations, and labor groups, and gathering individuals concerned about energy prices as activists.

This year, the campaign took the next step and mobilized supporters to contact Congress and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to help ensure effective legislation was passed.

“We knew congress was looking to reform financial markets, and oil speculation could be in that,” Castelveter says.

Strategy 

“The end game was to get Congress to pass legislation,” says Michael Green, director at Xenophon Strategies. “The best way to do that is to get constituents interested.”

The team used StopOilSpeculationNow.com spread messages and sign on individual activists. The team targeted media, individuals, and small groups via email and social media outreach. Tailored fuel price information helps motivate people to email Congress and the CFCT.

“There's a public comment period when an agency proposes a new rule,” Green explains. “We wanted to ensure citizens could get their thoughts and opinions on record.”

Tactics

The ATA targeted reporters and bloggers covering finance, energy, aviation, and government policy, as well as those in relevant Congressional districts.

About 350,000 activists received regular emails informing them of legislation updates and urging them to email Congress and submit comments to the CFTC.

A Facebook page launched at the end of 2009, where activists can share information with their friends or e-mail members of Congress directly from Facebook. Green calls Facebook ads “critical” to PR because they allow for highly specific targeting. The ATA also leveraged its Twitter account.

Results 

Green says the July 15 financial reform legislation stopped oil speculation and will ultimately lower fuel prices.

“This is by far the most successful and impactful campaign we've ever waged,” Castelveter says.

This year, 115,000 activist e-mails were sent to Congress, Green says, with nearly 2 million sent since 2008. Of the 7,932 total comments sent to CFTC in April, Green says 6,913 were from SOS Now activists.

Since July 2008, the campaign garnered more than 700 stories in such outlets as the front page of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times, Fox News, and MSNBC.

Future

The financial reform law will have multiple public comment periods, Castelveter says, and the campaign will continue until the CFTC issues and implements its final rule.

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