Canadian Manufacturing

‘Social movement’: Alberta’s energy ‘war room’ planning broad new ad campaign

The campaign will be largely aimed at British Columbia, the Maritimes, Ontario and especially Quebec.

September 1, 2021  The Canadian Press

Alberta’s Canadian Energy Centre appears ready to be vocal again, planning a new campaign to “change perceptions” about the province’s oil and gas industry and build what it’s calling a social movement in its support.

One year after the province’s United Conservative government ended the controversial agency’s outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic, the so-called “war room” has put out a request for proposals on how to change the values and attitudes held by people in Eastern Canada and the northern United States.

The winning candidate must show a “demonstrated ability to change perceptions about messages and values,” says an Aug. 23 document. Its ultimate goal is “building a social movement” in support of Canada’s oil and gas industry.

“We are excited to be moving forward on the CEC’s mission — to advance Canada as the supplier of choice for the world’s growing demand for responsibly produced energy,” Tom Olsen, the centre’s director, said in an email.

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The request for proposals does not include a price, which is left for the bidders to propose. The contract is to be awarded in late October and will last a year with possible extensions.

The United Conservative government established the centre to promote the energy industry and fire back against what it deems misinformation. It has since criticized The New York Times newspaper and scolded the makers of a children’s film featuring Bigfoot for what it felt was an anti-oil message.

In March 2020, the province drastically reduced the centre’s resources.

That year, the agency lost about 90 per cent of its $30-million budget, which comes largely from the government’s carbon levy. In a news release, the government said all paid advertising campaigns and work with outside contractors would stop.

The government’s February budget restored the centre’s funding to about $12 million. The advertising moratorium appears to be over with the new request for proposals.

“(The contractor will) develop and create a minimum of four consumer-direct strategic marketing campaigns that are emotional and compelling in order to measurably change perceptions about Canada’s energy sector,” the document says.

It says the campaign will be largely aimed at British Columbia, the Maritimes, Ontario and especially Quebec.

“(The centre) expects the proponent to have a local presence in Quebec.”

In the U.S., the campaign is to focus on border states, refining states and states along the eastern seaboard “where policy influence is significant.”