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Spoof ad thanks GM for pulling Heartland funding

April 04, 2012|By Dean Kuipers
  • In a parody of Chevy's own ads, a Chevy Volt owner talks about how she felt betrayed when she discovered GM funded the Heartland Institute, which questions the existence of human-caused climate change. GM has since stopped funding Heartland.
In a parody of Chevy's own ads, a Chevy Volt owner talks about how she… (Still from video by ForecastTheFacts.org )

ForecastTheFacts.org has put up an advertisement spoofing the new TV ads created for the Chevy Volt – but this one congratulates GM for ceasing to fund the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that questions the science behind global warming.

The spoof ad is running only on the group’s website. However, it was originally designed as part of an advertising campaign to lean on GM to stop its annual funding for Heartland.

Another Happy Volt Owner Thanks GM from ForecastTheFacts on Vimeo.

“This was going to be our next tactic in the campaign to put pressure on GM,” says Daniel Souweine, director of the climate and energy organizing project at Citizen Engagement Lab, which recently launched ForecastTheFacts.org. “There was such a clear contrast between what they were doing in the market and the positions that they’re taking and what Heartland does. The most emblematic example of that was the Chevy Volt.”

The Volt is GM’s new plug-in electric car, and a major initiative for the company as it seeks to dip into an eco-friendly market that is currently dominated by hybrid gas-electric cars. The vehicle was released to great fanfare in December 2010, but has seen weak sales. Last month, however, sales jumped markedly to 2,289 vehicles.  

ForecastTheFacts.org had asked GM car owners to join in a petition drive that delivered 20,000 messages to GM in February, and had received photos of those owners with their cars. One of them, Susan Maroc, drove a Volt.

In one of GM's latest Volt television campaigns, the happy Volt owners stand by their cars and extol its virtues. It was an easy ad to spoof.

In the activist ad, Maroc stands next to the car in an otherwise white room (it was shot on greenscreen) and talks about how she loves everything about the Volt, but was upset about their support for Heartland, citing the group’s attempt to introduce grade school curriculum that questions whether humans are responsible for global warming.

“Ridiculous,” she says.

On March 28, after the ad was shot, GM its annual funding from Heartland and announced it on the ForecastTheFacts.org site. Souweine and his associates reworked the ad, which hadn’t aired yet, introduced the information that GM’s position had changed, and added type at the end stating: “ForecastTheFacts members thank GM for doing the right thing.”

The Heartland Institute issued a statement last week that GM had been a longtime funder and it was “disappointed” when the car company pulled its support.

Souweine says his group has now set its sights on other companies.

“So we are thinking about how to talk to other corporations that are funding Heartland, especially in the wake of GM pulling out, and we are beginning those conversations. We definitely want to open up the dialog with other folks, and be asking them the question: Are they going to be continuing to support Heartland knowing what they stand for?” Souweine asks.

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