Commercial Break: Chevron Agrees (With Itself)   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 7 October 2012
Program: Meet the Press
Channel: NBC
Conglomerate: Comcast

Advertiser: Chevron
Owned By: Chevron
Pitch: We’re coming to your town to cause earthquakes, poison your water and pay you piddling compensation, but we want to be friendly about it.

A lot of commercials pay actors to pretend to be regular people so that their crap will seem more palatable to you, the actual regular person.  Oil mega-behemoth Chevron takes things one step further in this excellently dishonest advertisement for fracking by pretending that there’s some kind of disagreement and then resolving what wasn’t there in the first place.  This one’s a doozy, so we’re going to have to take it from the top.

We open with a double shot of our two actors:

Chevron Presents - Regular People

Don’t fret, the CG backgrounds will look even worse in a second.

Before we continue, let’s just pause for a second and marvel at the contempt on display here.  The woman on the left is sitting in front of a fake background made to look like a pleasant, middle class American neighborhood dressed like she’s just sitting on her porch, having a talk with you, her neighbor.  The man on the right is standing in front of the two universal images of farming in America, a red barn and a tractor wheel.  He’s wearing a perfectly clean, brand new looking shirt that is exactly what wardrobe directors think farmers look best in.  They speak:

Fake Farmer: We’re sitting on a bunch of shale gas.

What do you mean “we”, white man?  You and the rest of the underemployed actors at the Brentwood restaurant where you work?

Fake Neighbor: There’s natural gas under my town.

Sure there is, and if you go deep enough into the Earth you’ll find plenty of molten rock and liquid iron, that doesn’t mean I want any of it brought to the surface near my house. 

It’s a game changer.

This may be the first time in recorded history a fictional farmer has ever used a vacuous political cliche quite so unconvincingly.  After that, we cut to a title card cleverly photoshopped to look like it’s a homemade permanent marker on cardboard job without anyone ever having to get up from their keyboard:

Fake Sign Font

It’s not a real homemade sign, but an incredible simulation! 

And what might the “right thing” on shale gas be, according to Chevron?  They’re glad you asked:

Oh God, It Looks Even Worse Zoomed In!

My name is Adam, and I think I’d be great for Real World: Des Moines because I keep it real and my shirt is tastefully plaid!

Ignore the fact that “Adam” looks like he’s done about as much farm work in his life as Mitt Romney, and ignore the hideously fake looking background he’s pretending to be standing in front of, and just listen to the authentic voice of middle America:

Fake Farmer: It means cleaner, cheaper American made energy.

Hmm, sounds good.  I immediately trust any man standing in front of a fake compost pile.  Now it’s back to the other side of the set for “Angie”:

Oh God, It Looks Even Worse Zoomed In!2

My name is Angie, and I run a support group for people who arrange porch furniture so that it blocks their front door.  You are not alone.  Help is available.

Her backdrop actually manages to look even more incongruous and fake than “Adam”’s, including the fact that the sun is shining from the right in the background but from the left in the foreground.  The KGB took more care with their Stalin-era airbrushing, and they didn’t even have to worry about people criticizing their work.  She speaks:

Fake Neighbor: But we’ve got to be careful how we get it.  Design the wells to be safe.

As opposed to designing them to be dangerous?  That’s a pretty low bar.  Deepwater Horizon was designed to be safe, after all.  Back to “Adam”, who has now chosen to speak only in sentence fragments:

Fake Farmer: Thousands of jobs.

Then “Angie” returns with her rock bottom standards:

Fake Neighbor: Use the most advanced technology to protect our water.

Note that she isn’t actually advocating that water supplies be protected, merely that a nice try be made.  That tepid stab at public concern complete, we return to “Adam”, who still can’t complete a sentence:

Fake Farmer: Billions in the economy.

Heroin and diet supplements puts billions in the economy too, you know.  After that, this commercial shows how slapdash it is once more because it turns out that “Angie” is a mole:

Fake Neighbor: At Chevron, if we can’t do it right, we won’t do it at all.

Angie Lied to Us!

Oh my god, Angie works for Chevron?!  I thought she was just a concerned citizen who had natural gas under her town!  That’s probably not even her real porch! 

While “Angie” has outed herself as a stooge, “Adam” is sticking to his cover story as “Farmer”, which makes the entire commercial make no sense.  Are we supposed to care about “Angie”’s town?  Or are we supposed to think that Chevron people live in the same places we do?  Does that include the “Farmer”?  I’m so confused, and it’s only going to get worse:

Together: We’ve got to think long term. 

I Often Agree With People Reading From the Same Script

Wait, who’s the “We” here?  Is it “Angie” (Chevron infiltrator) and “Adam” (fake farmer)?  Or is it both of them plus Chevron using the royal we?  Is it supposed to include the audience as well?  Were they supposed to be disagreeing at the beginning?  It’s not entirely clear. 

What is clear is that the giant “We Agree” stamped over those two actors faces isn’t some kind of ground breaking accord between long hostile adversaries.  Nor is it common sense from the heartland.  It’s just the end of a script.  That we can agree on.

Posted October 8, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

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