Just a couple weeks ago, The Heartland Institute launched a controversial campaign using digital billboards in Chicago where it would soon be hosting its Seventh International Conference on Climate Change. The billboard project, which compared belief in global warming as an extremist position like some of those held by mass murderers and terrorists, was ended within 24 hours of its posting.
Now, Al Gore's Climate Reality Project has sponsored its own digital billboard as a response to Heartland's provocative stint. The New York Times' Green blog reports the billboard, managed by Clear Channel, states “Who to believe on climate? Heartland … or EVERY National Scientific Academy in the world?" The Times reports Chief Executive of Climate Reality Project Maggie Fox saying the organization's message serves as “a small reminder of who is really on the fringe.”
The Times also reports another group was vying for the position. Forecast the Facts came up with its own billboard, which Clear Channel decided it would not post for trademark reasons. This billboard said “We still support Climate Deniers. Do you?” and featured the pharmaceutical company Pfizer's logo along with the amount of its donation to Heartland. Spokesperson for Clear Channel Jim Cullinan told the Times there are legal reasons regarding the use of the Pfizer logo that prevented that billboard from going up.
Forecast the Facts told the Times it was disappointed its ad was rejected:
“I’m sure that if we had wanted to run an ad that says ‘trees smell nice’ or something, they probably would have let us run that — but who knows,” said Brad Johnson, its campaign manager.
“Our goal was to highlight Pfizer and other corporations’ support of the Heartland Institute,” Mr. Johnson said. “The question to ask is whether these corporations are based on a foundation of science or on a foundation of profit.”
Although Heartland was strongly criticized for its campaign, Jim Lakely, the director of communications, said in a statement the organization makes no apology for it and that it was purposely provocative.
“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," Lakey said earlier this month. He also said that Heartland would be looking for more ways to to "communicate this 'realist' message on the climate."