Tom Borelli

Just as good political advertising can sway an election, effective ads on issues such as energy can move public opinion and Congress. At a time when the soaring price of energy has public sentiment strongly in support of off-shore oil drilling, corporations have a unique opportunity to drive home the importance of developing domestic natural resources. With corporate profits being stung by the high cost of energy, aggressive advertising promoting fossil fuels is in the corporations’ self-interest.

Yet companies are squandering this opportunity. Why? Because liberal CEOs have adopted the leftist-inspired definition of corporate social responsibility (CSR), which is characterized by commitments to combat global warming. As a result, companies promote efforts to cut greenhouse gases rather than advertise the economic and social benefits of domestic energy exploration.

But by reinforcing the war against fossil fuels, CEOs are harming their shareholders, their employees and the economy.

The Dow Chemical Company provides an excellent example of a self-defeating CSR policy.

Because its profitability depends on cheap supplies of fossil fuels, Dow should be a leader in advertising the benefits of fossil fuel exploration. High fossil fuel prices harm Dow by raising the cost of the natural gas and petroleum it uses while reducing demand for its products in the automobile and housing industry.

Indeed, the impact of high energy prices on Dow is palpable. MarketWatch reported Dow’s 2nd quarter profits fell because “…the surge in raw-materials and energy prices added $ 2.4 billion to its overall costs compared with the first three months of 2008 and the company reported a 27% decline in profit.”

However, advocating greater and more economical supplies of fossil fuels would conflict with the CSR strategy designed by Dow’s liberal CEO, Andrew Liveris. As a result, not only is Dow wasting its money on touchy-feely CSR ads, but it is also a member of the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) – the coalition of industry and environmental activist groups seeking federal cap-and-trade regulation to address global warming.

Dow’s corporate advertising campaign is strikingly pathetic. Launched in 2006, “The Human Element” campaign is intended to “reintroduce the company and announce... its vision of addressing some of the most pressing economic, social and environmental concerns facing the global community in the coming decade.”

Dow’s print ad on energy typifies its CSR theme:

Tom Borelli

Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks.

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