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Chevron Has a Message for You

By Thomas Neuburger

Today’s piece is more exercise than explanation.

I’d like you to take a quick journey with me. I’d like to see if what’s true for me is also true for me. If it is, I think you’ll be as surprised as I was at how striking the realization is.

The exercise goes like this. We’re going to play the video below twice — once without sound, and once with sound. You’ll find the commercial has two separate meaning, depending on whether the sound is on or not, and depending on whether your soundless listen is your first.

Experiencing This Ad

First, let’s listen with the sound on mute. I encountered the ad embedded in the following tweet from Adam McKay, and I took it to be, as he tells us below, a feel-good ad for Chevron.

As you watch just the images roll by, what goes through your mind? How to you find yourself describing what’s in front of you? (My answers are at the bottom of this piece.)​

​Have you absorbed it, the experience? Have you processed what you’re watching?

1. What is Chevron telling you with these images (assuming the ad is indeed a Chevron ad)?

2. What is Chevron inadvertently telling you with these same images?

Now watch with the sound turned on. Since you’ve already seen the text at the end of the ad, you know the twist.

But you also know the images. As you it watch again, ask: Does the voice-over connect with the images displayed? Is the voice-over effective?

My Answers

Are you finished? My answers from listening in silent mode:

1. What is Chevron openly telling me when it broadcasts ads like these?

Answer: "Look at these beautiful shots of your wonderful world. We’re wonderful too, we caring Chevron people. We’re helping preserve your world, so you can be happy."

2. What is Chevron inadvertently telling me when it broadcasts ads like these?

It couldn’t have been more obvious, at least to me. My first time through the ad, I assumed it was Chevron propaganda. With the sound turned down, I immediately got this message:

“Linger and look at what our greed destroys: Balloons in a happy sky. The bee-filled air. Wind on a young girl’s face as she swings in a yard. A dad who loves her, in a world that cares.

"Say goodbye to all this. We are monsters. After a certain point, after we’re dead, your children will never experience these things again. But thanks for the cash. Thanks for enriching our kids; they're are happy to have it.”

And then, after listening again with the sound turned up, the ad let me down. It’s a very different experience than the soundless ad — almost too on the nose, at least for me. And an almost less powerful feeling afterward than the boiling aboriginal rage that rose in my brain as I watched the silent version.

I was struck, though, by this section of spoken word (emphasis added):

We at Chevron ... have billions and billions of dollars to pay for this commercial time. This cheesy footage. And this bullshit music. All so you’ll be lulled into a catatonic state that makes you forget one singular fact. Chevron is actively murdering you. Every day.

They got that right. The modern ad and PR industry is an evil thing: self-righteous, self-deceptive, manipulative. Pathological. Deadly. And the worst of it is, their ads almost always work.

Until they don’t, and there’s a reckoning.

5 ความคิดเห็น

27 ต.ค. 2565

Very effective and affecting. No doubt about it. It reminds me of the effort to save the redwoods from Ronald (seen one tree seen 'em all) Reagan during the 1970's. There was a fantastic documentary depicting the majesty of the redwoods which did not move the needle of public opinion. So the ad wizards went negative and showed clear cut forests with stumps remaining after cutting and that did the trick. Maybe Howie can back me up on that.


25 ต.ค. 2565

1) just the name 'chevron' (or any of the other atmospheric carbonation corporations... koch being perhaps the worst) evokes in me what the audio of the commercial says. And no pastoral scenes can alter it.

2) yes, chevron is killing everyone and everything... for fun and profit. But it's not murder. it's more like murder/suicide... because people willingly buy their poison and use it just as it was intended to be used... to slowly kill everyone and everything. and if they have to pay a little more, they'll change the whole paradigm by electing nazis... who will do absolutely nothing at all about it... just like the democraps.

3) we (well, some of us anyway) have known this for at…

27 ต.ค. 2565

oh, THAT'S what he meant.

if voters weren't so fucking stupid, maybe they'd have elected a party that would have stopped paying oil companies, made markets fair, reinstated "fairness" and "equal time" doctrines and forced their bribery out of government (and eliminated the electoral college and the filibuster).

to say nothing of a reasonable minimum wage, taxing billionaires out of existence, putting treasonous murderers in prison (or up against a wall)...

54 years ago, pussy democraps refused to hold nixon accountable for treason; and dumber than shit americans elected him (because the democraps refused to be against the war). and it's been downhill ever since for both parties, government and voters' intellect.

and we are on the precipice of taking…

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