A key objective of the newly launched, Koch-backed Fueling U.S. Forward campaign, is to give the oil and gas industry a populist, “everyday American” appeal.
After all, real people talking about the importance of oil and gas are much more convincing than the oil and gas interests that are paying for the campaign. So the campaign makes great efforts to have a “grassroots” look and feel featuring “real people.”
But while the images of happy and diverse families currently appearing on the Fueling U.S. Forward site and social media graphics create the right impression, in reality this is nothing more than a thin veneer. These images are just downloaded off stock image websites.
The families and smiling people are not happy about the glories of oil and gas, but just models paid to look happy for whoever wants to use their images for a price. That’s right—these models never even agreed to pose for oil and gas promotions, just to pose for heartwarming and inspiring stock images.
Take for instance the mom and daughter currently gracing the homepage of the Fueling U.S. Forward website:
This image, in the context of this campaign, creates a great impression of a mom and daughter feeling safe and happy all thanks to oil and gas. But that image can be downloaded here, free for commercial use to anyone who wants it.
Of course this isn’t the greatest public relations faux pas. Agencies and advertisers use stock footage all the time. But for a campaign whose stated goal is to tell the stories of real people, they sure have a strange way of achieving it.