What happens when the coal industry tries to tell Australians they want and need coal?
The multi-million dollar “Australians for Coal” marketing campaign, which was kicked off by The Minerals Council yesterday, has proven just how out of touch with the modern world the dirty coal industry is.
Not only does the campaign seek to spruik an energy technology that is destroying our climate, costing us millions in health care and wreaking havoc on local communities, but it has shown how completely out of touch the industry are with the general public.
Far from being “for coal”, Australians understand the true cost of this dirty industry on human health, food security and the monumental impact it is having on our climate.
The Australian ran a crowing article in the morning reporting that the website will finally “give a voice to the sector”. Despite this being the only voice that our government currently seems to listen to, the Minerals Council obviously feels that the coal industry is losing favour with the masses. In an attempt to make coal hip, they launched a non-threatening website (purposely crafted to look like a community group site) and a list of carefully crafted suggested tweets. That oughtta do it, they thought.
But within hours of the campaigns launch, @quitcoaloz was the number one trending topic on Twitter, closely followed by the #australiansforcoal hashtag, fuelled by a barrage of tongue-in-cheek tweets from Twitter users about their burning love for coal:
The pro-coal campaign, coming less than a month since the Hazelwood fires (the largest coal-mining disaster in Victoria’s history), seemed particularly on the nose to residents in Morwell, whose tweets came thick and fast:
The Murdoch press may see the coal sector as a victim that has to “muscle up to green activists”, but the general public wasn’t so easily deceived. With nine communities in Victoria declaring themselves “Coal and Gas Free” and 25 set to follow, it would seem the PR message isn’t quite getting across.
But if one thing is clear from this exercise in “word-of-mouth” marketing, it’s that the coal industry in Australia is going to have a lot of trouble selling their message, let alone their product, to a public that is rapidly losing faith in fossil-fuels.
Besides, why burn coal when you can watch a PR career go up in flames?