Wednesday, June 2, 2010

‘Chemical Security’ Campaign

Last week I mentioned the new Greenpeace advertising campaign, Chemical Security, in their continuing efforts to encourage Congress to pass legislation (HR 2868) allowing DHS to require implementation of inherently safer technology. Last Friday, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a press release addressing the campaign as a “misguided attempt to ban essential chemicals”. Rather than see HR 2868 passed, the ACC would prefer to see legislation like S 2996 that would provide for a five year extension of the current CFATS program. Jobs and Conservation In their direct response to the Greenpeace campaign the ACC focused on the fact that the current CFATS program was an effective security program with the teeth to require compliance. They also noted that the program had already influenced a large number of facilities to make changes to their manufacturing processes to decrease the inherent risk of terrorist attacks. They also point out that “an effective security plan addresses potential security vulnerabilities while at the same time taking into account other important considerations like protecting jobs, managing environmental concerns and ensuring worker safety”. These ‘important considerations’ are directly focused on the concerns of many of the Greenpeace target audience. They continue that focus by noting that many of the ‘Greenpeace solutions’ are “more energy intensive and produce more waste”. If the chemical industry is going to have any chance of blunting the effectiveness of the political campaign being waged by Greenpeace and other activist organizations, they are going to have to focus on their new conservation message. And they are going to have to find more effective communications techniques than just press releases. Next Stage Greenpeace is certainly not allowing their campaign to stand still. On Monday they released a YouTube video continuing their Chemical Security campaign. Where the initial portion of that campaign was a series of still pictures of their ‘green’ airship over the Dupont facilities, this next step is a well produced video with high production values looking at the same facilities. They continue their focus on the potential risk of deaths and injuries from a large scale chlorine release, accidental or terrorist related. As of Tuesday morning the video has received over 500 hits, and Greenpeace had done nothing to advertise it. I have only seen one Tweet referencing the video and it was apparently a viral tweet, not associated with any of the typical Greenpeace voices. I expect that that will change as the week progresses. As the summer progresses I expect that Greenpeace will fulfill their promise made in the video of having their airship appear at other high-profile, high-risk facilities across the country. If I were running their campaign I would focus on areas with close Congressional races where I could publically call on candidates to take a stand on the issue of inherently safer technology. It will be interesting to see if the deeper pockets of the chemical industry will respond with an effective public campaign of their own, or whether they will continue to rely on a more traditional approach directed just at the politicians. In this year’s political climate I think a more public campaign will be required.

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