What feedback did you get from your participation in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) last December?
The green economy is happening and aluminum plays a significant role in that. It is shifting toward sustainability and efficiency and our metal is uniquely positioned, so we want to push that story forward. Policy and international affairs is one channel. The COP21 meeting is an excellent platform for us to put the metal in the global conversation.
Most COP21 work was on the front end. We sent an open letter to the US and Canadian governments (in collaboration with the Aluminum Association of Canada) highlighting concerns about policies regarding overproduction of carbon-intensive aluminum from China.
The association wasn’t on the ground in Paris, though some member companies did and were armed with similar messaging. This was an opportunity to raise the profile of our position on trade with a non-traditional audience.
How did your domestic effort roll out?
"Rethink Aluminum" called out the unique attributes and applications of aluminum. Our challenge is to broaden that perception, especially strength messaging, in the auto, defense, and aerospace sectors – planes, the Ford F150, and military equipment, use aluminum.
The campaign included online display ads and social media promotion targeting inside-the-Beltway influencers with a message about the ways aluminum makes the world a better place.
We also did old-fashioned, shoe-leather lobbying on Capitol Hill and 42 members of the House joined the aluminum caucus. In-person meetings with environmental NGOs were key in sharing our message and getting feedback.
The association met environmental organizations with diverse interests, including the Environmental Defense Fund, US Green Building Council, World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund, and American Council on Renewable Energy.
We shared priorities and briefings on issues, primarily advances in decreasing the carbon footprint of American aluminum. These organizations provided thoughtful feedback on how aluminum can better position itself as the sustainable material of choice and shared priorities and opportunities for collaboration.
What have you seen in terms of engagement?
This campaign drove more than 8.7 million impressions and 12,000 web engagements from Beltway insiders - including the House and Senate, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency.
We also launched AluminumNation last summer, the association’s first online grassroots advocacy network. It facilitates communication between policymakers and industry supporters. Coupled with more than 14,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, the association is building the network to support a strong domestic industry. Web traffic to www.aluminum.org grew 55% year over year, social followers 19%.