Ad firm touts its "clean coal" persuasion work

Mon, 2009-06-01 20:38Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Ad firm touts its "clean coal" persuasion work

R&R Partners - Advertising - Public Relations - Government Affairs

When it comes to the idea of clean coal author Jeff Goodell put it best: “Clean coal” is not an actual invention, a physical thing – it is an advertising slogan. Like “fat-free donuts” or “interest-free loans.”

In other words, the idea that coal somehow fits the definition of “clean” is nothing more than an illusion created by ad firms and public relations spindoctors. The truth of the matter is that coal remains the dirtiest fossil fuel in America, pumping all sorts of nasty by-products into our air, like Mercury and heat-trapping greenhouse gases that are the main culprit when it comes to climate change.

Earlier this year we reported that the public relations firm behind the coal industry’s multi-million dollar marketing blitz to put a clean shiny new face on coal was boasting their ability to manipulate the opinions of both Democratic and Republican politicians.

Now the advertising firm behind the heavily-aired “America’s Power” campaign, R & R Partners - Advertising,  has come out with its own brag-sheet detailing the ad work it did for the coal industry’s main front group the, “American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity” (ACCCE).

Rob Van Raaphorst, Account Supervisor, Public Relations at R&R Advertising and Persuasion explains that their company prepared, “a fully integrated marketing, branding and issue-advocacy campaign to educate our audiences on the importance of coal in their daily lives… Outreach consisted of grassroots, earned media, paid media and advocacy tactics that created a “surround-sound” effect targeting each of our audiences through all mediums and communications. Grassroots efforts included street teams, walking billboards, mobile billboards and recruitment and mobilization of an ACCCE Army (supporters of ACCCE and its mission) at presidential primaries, debates, conventions and other key campaign events.”

R&R Advertising has a second case study up on their website discussing the development of ACCCE’s $400,000 website Interestingly, in this case study R&R does not directly attribute the website to ACCCE, but instead to an advocacy group called the “Coal-Based Generation Stakeholders.” A quick online search finds that the Coal-Based Generation Stakeholder is an organization made up of a diverse group of investor owned utilities, rural electric co-ops, public power companies, coal producers and coal-hauling railroads.

Members of the Coal-Based Generation Stakeholder group include ACCCE president, Steve Miller (big surprise), Irl Engelhardt, president and CEO, Peabody Energy, Ruth Shaw, President and CEO, Duke Energy and Jack Gerard, President and CEO, National Mining Association.

A cozy little tight knit group of major coal players all working together with their ad firms and spindoctors to convince us that clean coal (like fat-free donuts) actually exists.

Note: ACCCE had this to say about my piece.



Is there nothing that these PR bastards won’t spin?


  • How about paedophilia? If the Paedophilia Association [should one exist] could rustle up sufficient funds for a campaign. 
  • How about bringing back slavery [not that it’s ever quite gone away]. Just think how anyone can afford a few slaves. And while we are about it we can steal resources from third world countries and rape their women.
  • Rape - after all those women had it coming.
  • Cannibalism? I think the public might find this one hard to swallow.
  • White supremacy? Why Hitler’s Nazism was right. Come on, the Nazis were the good guys, they were just misunderstood  – No really. They were doing the world a service, ridding the world of Jews, gipsies, homosexuals and just about anyone else they didn’t like.


Would these PR guys take on the challenge? Certainly seems like it. As long as someone foots the bill. And they’d be proud of it.


The right-wing think-tanks are already trying to sell the message WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION!!! is totally evil, because it robs from good ‘ordinary’ Americans such as ‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber’ – and, oh, AIG ex-VP Jake DeSantis – in order to give to unnamed people who are “net tax consumers”.

I see an opportunity here for another Totally Grassroots movement.


My knee-jerk reaction was “somebody please delete that post!”, but on reflection, you’re right.  It’s that serious.  We prosecute for crimes against humanity, why not crimes against the planet?  After all, we’re all toast if they scorch it. 


“After all, we’re all toast if they scorch it.”

Would that make us all burnt toast?  Laughing  Tee hee…(sorry, couldn’t resist).

Nobody likes coal. It’s dirty. Everybody knows that, but I don’t see why the industry even bothers with a propaganda campaign, because every time someone turns on a light switch, they vote in favor of the coal industry anyway. King Coal always wins because people like electricity. The only short term option to coal is turning off  the lights.

every time someone turns on a light switch, they vote in favor of the coal industry anyway.

So by the same logic, every time someone doesn’t turn on a light switch, they vote against the coal industry?


Unless by short term you mean this week. Pop over to Climate Progress to get a report on what China (a developing country) is doing. Use the Interweb thingy to find out what Europe is up to. While you are there, check out the growth in wind power in the US. Most governments are moving on, although from what I read here Canada isn’t in the race and the US are still dragging their heels. Hell, even Australia would like to be seen to be green.

  It’s dirty. Nobody likes coal. Everybody knows that, but I don’t see why , because every time someone turns on a light switch, they vote in favor of the coal industry anyway. Coal always wins because everyone like electricity. Turning off  the lights.The only short term option to coal.

While advertising can be seen as necessary for economic growth, it is not without social costs. Unsolicited Commercial Email and other forms of spam have become so prevalent as to have become a major nuisance to users of these services, as well as being a financial burden on internet service providers.[4] Advertising is increasingly invading public spaces, such as schools, which some critics argue is a form of child exploitation.[5] In addition, advertising frequently utilizes psychological pressure (for example, appealing to feelings of inadequacy) on the intended consumer, which may be harmful.
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Nobody likes coal. It's dirty. Everybody knows that, but I don't see why the industry even bothers with a propaganda campaign, because every time someone turns on a light switch, they vote in favor of the coal industry anyway. King Coal always wins because people like electricity. The only short term option to coal is turning off the lights.

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The clean coal ad campaign is an attempt to sell the public an idea that has no basis in reality and now the advertising firm behind it is bragging about how effective their spin was.

There is no such thing like a 'clean coal'. I agree with you. It's like when the canned drink companies tag 'sugar-free'. The drinks still have a lot of sugar, they just write the ingredients the different way. The natural resources companies are just trying to give good impression for the 'dirty' jobs they are doing and profiting big from.

Free Advertising Agency

Coal is still valuable in my place especially in winter season.


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