Ad Nut eagerly awaits the day that oil companies are as extinct as the dinosaurs and other species whose decomposed bodies eventually transformed into the fossil fuels that they unearth and sell. This hope is all the more fervent today, as another Earth Day arrives without much hope that you humans will reverse the climate crisis you’ve dragged all of the planet’s creatures into. But, until the happy day oil companies die, people need to get around, petroleum still powers a lot of vehicles, and therefore fossil-fuel companies have the right to advertise their wares. So here’s a new campaign that marks the relaunch of Australian oil producer Ampol, which was formerly known as Caltex Australia. The campaign launched yesterday—so at least the company had the sense to not launch a new oil-company campaign on Earth Day. As much as Ad Nut reviles the continued existence of petroleum companies, one sort of has to admire the craftiness of the ‘far and wide’ messaging in the brand’s new film.
The work is very careful never to level criticism outright. But by stressing Australia’s vast distances and showing lots of gas-powered vehicles that are not passenger cars—capped by the tagline ‘The fuel that gets you there’—the film delivers a subtext about the shortcomings of electric vehicles. And sadly, the argument is actually valid. For now at least. Without enough electricity infrastructure in place, and without electric options for many industrial vehicles, petroleum is still necessary. But it’s a necessary evil, and we all know that. Yet the ad manages to flip the necessity of fossil fuels over into a reason for appreciating the company for providing them. And thus, along with the return to patriotic branding (“Australia’s own”), the company and its agencies (Saatchi & Saatchi and iProspect) have found a way to advertise a seriously unpopular product in a way that more or less succeeds. Anyway, Ad Nut supposes that this approach is better than that of some other oil companies, which cynically present themselves as eco-warriors valiantly striving to evolve the energy industry and save the planet, while actually doing nothing of the sort.