Other companies that have withdrawn support for the institute since the billboard went up last week include Diageo, one of the world’s largest beverage companies and parent to Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Moet & Chandon. GM withdrew support for other reasons in March.
“We know that our billboard angered and disappointed many of Heartland’s friends and supporters, but we hope they understand what we were trying to do with this experiment,” said a statement from Heartland President Joseph Bast posted on the group’s website Friday. “We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.”
Microsoft donated software worth $59,908 to Heartland in 2011, according to documents now known to have been acquired under false pretenses by climate change warrior and MacArthur grant recipient Peter Gleick. But on Friday, Microsoft distanced itself from Heartland with a statement on its blog that read, in part, “the Heartland Institute’s position on climate change is diametrically opposed to Microsoft’s position. And we completely disagree with the group’s inflammatory and distasteful advertising campaign.”
Asked if Heartland were damaged by the billboard, Lakely replied, “A lot of people seem to think so. As Joe Bast said in our statement, the billboard was intended to be provocative, and we expected the left to raise a stink about it. We were surprised that our friends and supporters were so put off by the billboard, and that’s why it was removed, out of respect for their opinions.”