Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Bogus Branding of ExxonMobil

It doesn't matter how many times I watch their phony math and science advocacy ads; I will never have an ounce of warm and fuzzy feelings toward ExxonMobil. It's more bogus corporate responsibility branding that amounts to nothing for ExxonMobil and does nothing for the self-righteous brand gurus pitching the concept. Frankly, the overt dishonesty is insulting.

The latest advertisements are promoting ExxonMobil's support of the National Math and Science Initiative, a worthwhile cause that the corporation committed $125 million to in 2007, earning it the title of "founding sponsor." Nevertheless, it's incredibly deceitful to run a campaign that aligns the values of a hardworking student or a generous teacher with that of an oil company whose principle interest is pleasing investors. Perhaps we should consider the ad to only be reflective of ExxonMobil in terms of the price they paid to be socially "responsible." If so, it cost them a promise of $125 million in 2007. That same year, they earned $40.6 billion, a record profit for any corporation in United States history and what amounts to $1,287 of profit for every second of the year. Do the math and ExxonMobil's hat-hanger of a contribution equates to one third of a percentage point (.003) of their profit on the year. Yet, the public is supposed to believe that educating future generations is something ingrained in the fabric of the company. Spare me the branding nonsense.

Oil is a very dirty, but a very necessary business. I get that. We all benefit every day from the usefulness of oil as an energy source and a raw material in our finished products. Oil is a vital part of the planet we live on and ExxonMobil is good at finding it and getting it for us. Please say that instead. Don't lie and feed the public the BS branding line that you're "taking on the world's toughest energy challenges" if all you're doing is preparing future generations to inherit them.

This post also appeared on Talent Zoo Media's Beneath the Brand blog.

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