I read a lot of business focused publications including Forbes, Fortune, BusinessWeek, and the Wall Street Journal. I also pay attention to print advertising in those publications – I blame (or perhaps a better word would be “credit”) Ms. Page, my tenth grade Semantics teacher. She taught us that the words used in advertisements are some of the most carefully chosen, expensive words in existence. If one understands that a full page ad in one of the publications listed above can sell for $100,000 and up, and then performs some simple math it is easy to see that each word can cost several thousand dollars to print. If the ad runs multiple times in a variety of publications, the mental cash register should see just how high that price can go.
And that is just for actually printing the word – do not forget how much effort (read cost) goes into the ad production in the first place. Agencies and their “creatives” can spend whole days in meetings and reviews determining just which words will be the ones that move readers and impart the message that the company wants to deliver.
Anyway, I notice what companies choose to say and what they choose not to say about themselves. One of the things I have noticed rather frequently is how often companies like Chevron asks people to join them in a quest for energy alternatives and how BP tries to tell people that they are Beyond Petroleum and starting to invest in other energy sources. What I have never seen in either company’s advertising is a mention of the fact that there is an atomic alternative to fossil fuel – though they often list wind, solar, biomass, tidal, and geothermal.
It was with great glee, however, when I saw a 3/4 page ad in the Wall Street Journal on October 10, 2007 that twice mentioned nuclear energy as an example of a clean energy alternative. The ad pictured a grassy meadow and talked about PSEG’s stock price performance, which has been rather impressive compared to standard indexes like the S&P 500. The essential thread of the advertisement was that moving toward green energy was bringing another kind of green (dollars) to stockholders. I will find the ad and post the full text, but I wanted to share with you a small victory.
Unfortunately, PSEG’s ad budget does not yet rival that of Chevron, BP or Shell – the ad partially covered page B5. It was not a full page on the front flap or back cover like the major fossil fuel companies often buy.
However, it is a start worth mentioning!
Update: Here is the ad text:
We have good news for investors in the energy sector:
There can be green in going green.
Over the years, we at PSEG have shown that generating clean energy, such as nuclear power, can be very profitable. We’ve also been actively championing conservation and the expansion of renewable energy sources, like solar, to reduce carbon emissions. However, for the long term, the nation will need additional capacity for low- and zero-carbon electric generation, such as nuclear. Going green is simply what’s right for the environment and our customers and, at the same time, right for our business and shareholders.
Wall Street Journal 10 October 2007 Page B5