ABC Criticized for ‘Vastly Polluting PR Stunt’

by | Oct 21, 2009

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VAs ABC begins promoting its “V” series, the broadcaster is coming under fire for its method of promoting the show. ABC is owned by Walt Disney Corp., which has publicly committed itself to reducing emissions.

In promoting the “V” series, which is about aliens taking over Earth, ABC plans to send up skywriting planes in 15 cities to write giant, ominous red Vs. To add dramatic effect, the skywriting will occur directly over various U.S. landmarks in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Orlando, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Dallas, Austin, Tempe, Ariz., and Santa Monica, Calif.

Lisa de Moraeas, who writes The TV Column for the Washington Post, was critical of the PR campaign, calling it “vastly polluting.”

“All told, we’re conservatively talking here about around 400 gallons of fuel containing maybe 800 grams of lead — aviation fuel is exempt from the EPA’s ban on lead — and around three tons of CO2, among other pollutants, if each ‘V’ outing took about one hour of flying time,” de Moraeas wrote.

De Moraeas writes that the PR effort doesn’t cross the “ecological miscarriage” threshold, but she take ABC to task because of Disney’s commitment earlier this year to cut emissions from fuels in half by 2012. Disney’s commitment, however, did not include marketing and PR efforts. Rather, the emissions cuts were part of a goal to become carbon neutral at office and retail complexes, theme parks and cruise lines.

De Moraeas quoted aviation expert Miles O’Brien, a pundit who has appeared on CNN and PBS’ Frontline.

“Marketing departments want to make a big splash, and inevitably when you make a big splash you are doing something to the environment,” O’Brien said, adding, “This is not the end of the world and they are not going to melt the glaciers tomorrow but I think (networks) should be more circumspect in pitching the carbon neutrality of all their efforts in toto.”

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