May 17, 2012
Clear Channel Rejects Billboard Highlighting Heartland Institute’s Corporate Funders: “You can’t criticize a corporation.”
Billboard intended to highlight Pfizer’s and other corporations’ funding of the Heartland Institute and would have been installed in the same location where Heartland put up an ad featuring the Unabomber.
Less than two weeks after the Heartland Institute compared people who believe in global warming to the Unabomber on a Clear Channel Chicago (CCMO) digital billboard, Clear Channel has rejected an ad campaign highlighting corporate support for the controversial think tank on the eve of its annual climate-change-denial conference.
The proposed ads, which would be displayed on the exact same digital billboard the Heartland Institute used, point out that some of the world’s most prominent corporations “still support climate deniers” – and ask viewers if they do, too. The ads feature pharmaceutical maker Pfizer, software corporation Microsoft, and media giant Comcast. These corporations were chosen because they have significantly contributed to the Heartland Institute, but have thus far rejected calls to end their relationship with the controversial organization. The ads do not feature any known serial killers or terrorists.
Clear Channel Outdoors Chicago Branch President Par Ridder rejected the billboards in a telephone conversation with Forecast the Facts, explaining that Clear Channel “would not approve a billboard that criticized corporations.” When asked whether that was an official Clear Channel policy, Ridder declined to comment.
“Apparently Clear Channel thinks it’s fine to defame the millions of Americans who recognize the reality of climate change, but it’s not okay to hold accountable the corporations who make that kind of offensive propaganda possible,” said Brad Johnson, Campaign Manager for Forecast the Facts, the group leading the effort.
The rejected billboard was to be “crowd-funded” by contributions from the 150,000 people who have joined Forecast the Facts, SumofUs, 350.org, and others, to call on corporations to defund Heartland. The ad displays the Pfizer (PFE) logo and its $130,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2010. The text, “I still support Climate Deniers. Do you?” refers to the fact that pharmaceutical giant continues to defend its relationship with the anti-science group.
See the submitted billboard:
The corporate accountability ad parodies the original Heartland ad, which ran a picture of Ted Kazcynski next to the phrase: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”
Unlike competitor Eli Lilly, who dropped its support for Heartland after more than 150,000 people protested their “Unabomber” billboards, Pfizer continues to argue that it gets “significant benefits from our involvement” with the group.
The Heartland Institute, by its own admission, “is widely recognized as a leading source of science and economics questioning claims that man-made global warming is a crisis.”
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