Arctic Willow Project becomes focus of digital ads and viral posts
A roundup of the climate conversation across social media this week
Welcome to Climate Monitor, a weekly report on the digital strategies polluters and pro-Climate groups are using to shift public opinion and move legislation. We’ve examined political ad spending on social media platforms, as well as what’s trending on social media. Here’s what we found:
The fight over ConocoPhillips “Willow Project” in Alaska is heating up with viral posts on Facebook, Instagram, and especially TikTok attacking the plan.
Digital ads are also being run on both sides of the Willow Project fight to pressure the Biden administration in one way or the other. Notably, freshman Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) is running Google & YouTube ads in support of the controversial arctic drilling project.
Progressive organizing group People’s Action has launched a new Facebook ad campaign celebrating the Biden administration’s infrastructure investments and highlighting how they benefit frontline communities. .
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Digital Advertising Roundup
Facebook + Instagram 👍
For starters, here were the top 25 climate and energy-related advertisers on Facebook and Instagram last week:
A new pro-climate advertiser on Facebook last week was the longtime progressive organizing network People’s Action. The organization is running a variety of Facebook ads educating users on the climate and transportation benefits of the federal infrastructure bills passed during the Biden administration. Their ads specifically target younger audiences and communities of color in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Action for the Climate Emergency is also getting in on the digital ads game. They are running new vertical video ads opposing ConocoPhillips’ arctic drilling Willow Project with the goal of gathering petition signatures by targeting Facebook and Instagram users aged 13-34 nationwide.
Some other groups that have run Facebook ads mentioning the Willow Project in the past year include The Wilderness Society, Alaska Wilderness League, Evergreen Action, Earthjustice, Protect Our Winters, Friends of the Earth, Audubon Society, and Sierra Club.
Google & YouTube 🎞️
There were several Google ad campaigns related to climate and energy issues last week that were archived according to the company’s political ad policies. As a reminder, only ads mentioning a candidate or ballot initiative are publicly archived here.
Some of the climate or energy-related advertisers were: the Virginia League of Conservation Voters ($1,700), Maine Affordable Energy ($1,200), Nevada Conservation League Education Fund ($200), and Conservation MN Voter Center ($200)
Some of the most notable Google ads this week are these from freshman Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK), who is targeting Washington, DC residents with YouTube and Google Display ads in support of the Willow Project:
Peltola was elected in 2022 and lists one of her policy priorities as “developing our natural resources and investing in Alaska’s renewable energy to make our communities more self-sustainable” according to her campaign website. Peltola and her team have spent around $1,300 on these ads in the past week.
There were no new climate or energy-related advertisers on Snapchat last week. As a reminder, Patagonia remains the only relevant spender here in 2023, promoting these types of ads to younger audiences in Oregon and California.
Streaming Ads & Elsewhere 📺
There were several climate-related ad campaigns running on CTV/streaming services or other digital platforms that we spotted last week.
Just like the previous week, the Climate Action Campaign continues to run these “finish the job” ads on Roku, while the Center for Climate Integrity continued to run these compelling video ads on Microsoft’s ad network attacking oil company greed.
What’s Trending on Social Media
How are climate and energy issues being discussed by Americans on social media? Every week, we conduct a robust keyword search using CrowdTangle for general terms like “climate change,” “global warming,” “fossil fuels,” and over 30 more specific topics ( like “electric vehicles,” “gas stoves” and “pipelines”). Here were the 15 top-performing public posts (by # of interactions) related to climate and energy on Facebook last week:
The far-right furor about East Palestine, Ohio started to die down on Facebook last week and gave way to familiar anti-climate narratives and posts from the usual suspects.
For example, conservative Young Americans for Liberty shared this viral video of climate-denying Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) “grilling” U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry on climate science, while Koch-backed FreedomWorks lazily published this popular text-only post dismissing the climate crisis altogether.
The conservative focus on gas stoves seems to have flamed out temporarily at least on Facebook too - the top-performing posts mentioning “gas stoves” last week came from three Republican politicians, but received very little engagement.
Climate advocates also earned moderate levels of engagement on their posts last week. Most notable among these posts were those from Earthjustice and the Wilderness Society, which both shared content in opposition to the Willow Project.
Meanwhile, here were the top-performing feed posts (excluding Reels and Stories) related to climate and energy on Instagram last week:
Pro-climate posts received large levels of engagement on Instagram last week. @LeonardoDiCaprio and @NatGeo, both benefitting from massive owned audiences, received the most interactions on their posts, both of which included generic messages about the climate crisis. The most notable new post was this collab between indigenous activists/influencers Quannah Chasinghorse and Jody Potts-Joseph, which highlighted the plight of Yukon and Kuskokwim peoples in the face of crashing salmon returns.
Their post reads in part: “Today our salmon are facing complete decimation, with returns the lowest on record. The salmon face global warming, trawler bycatch in the open seas, competition with farmed hatchery fish, and interception by near shore fisheries. However, the burden of conservation has been solely placed on our Indigenous peoples who rely on salmon to feed their families.”
Other top Instagram posts included this one from NRDC about the Willow Project and several others reporting on activist Greta Thunberg’s recent arrest.
Lastly, on climate TikTok this week, the #StopWillow campaign has picked up major steam. There are now numerous clever videos with millions of views educating users on the negative climate and local impacts of the massive arctic drilling plan. Here’s a really great example:
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Want to go deeper? Here’s a quick roundup of news from the past week at the intersection of climate, digital strategy, and advocacy.
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TikTok push targets Biden on Alaska’s huge Willow oil plan (Associated Press, 3/8)
The viral #StopWillow campaign shows how TikTokers are tackling climate change (Washington Post, 3/7)
Alaska Natives Beg Biden to Halt Massive Oil Project (Mother Jones, 3/8)
A New Front Line in the Debate Over Policing: A Forest Near Atlanta (New York Times, 3/4)
Illinois measure would require gas stoves to carry warning labels regarding health effects (Center Square, 3/8)
The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Own Poll Found Most New Yorkers Support a Gas Ban in New Buildings (Inside Climate, 3/3)
That’s it for this week! If you enjoyed reading this week’s issue, feel free to forward it to a friend or colleague.
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