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News ::
Colorado billionaire supporting nationwide propaganda campaign
04 Mar 2002
propaganda war

Philip Anschutz, who the BBC
described as having "a reputation as one of the hungriest of US corporate
vultures", is currently using his wealth and power to support a slick ad
campaign appearing on 10,000 billboards, in hundreds of movie theaters, and
on nearly a thousand TV stations across the country. The Foundation for a
Better Life (FBL)—the
non-profit entity that officially produces and distributes the ads—has
no contact information on its website, forbetterlife.org,
but a series of posts and comments to the portland indymedia open publishing
newswire uncovered the connection between Anschutz and FBL:
[ original
post | first
follow-up | second
follow-up ]
The ad campaign features billboards
with words such as "Courage", "Unity", and "Compassion".
Illustrating each value is a photograph of a person, an catchy, explanatory
tagline, and the phrase, "Pass it on". The commercials,
similarly themed, "are being seen on average over 2 million times per day
on seven networks and over 900 TV stations... [and] are also being shown in
all United Artists, Regal and Edwards movie theaters totaling over 6,000 screens
across the country" according to FBL. The ~6,600 screens of those three
chains account for nearly 20% of the U.S. total. The campaign was put together
by Jay
Schulberg (who created the "Got Milk?" ads),
Nancy
Fletcher, President and CEO of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America
(OAAA) and Gary Dixon, President of FBL. Dixon courteously declined an invitation
for an interview with a portland indymedia contributor, saying that FBL would
prefer to emphasize "the message and not the messenger".
While some of the individual ads—for
example, a Mother Teresa billboard with the phrase, "Reaching beyond yourself"—express
positive messages with which few would argue, others—like
the one showing emergency workers raising the American flag in the rubble of
the World Trade Center with the words, "No setback will set us back"—are
transparently pro-war. Though FBL's campaign was planned before the attacks
on the East Coast on September 11, 2001, it was "expanded
upon" after those events. The new additions are easily identifiable.
Philip Anschutz, until
recently the 16th richest person in America, and still quite wealthy, has
given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican Party and various GOP
candidates in at least the last two Presidential election cycles. His oil and
gas company, the Anschutz
Exploration Corporation, had notoriously destructive intent against a sacred
Native American site in Montana. His corporate
empire includes a majority holding in Qwest Communications and ownership
of several sports teams and arenas. Significantly, he also owns the United Artists,
Regal and Edwards movie theater chains, where the FBL commercials are being
shown. Whether or not FBL is paying for these slots is unknown. According
to Outdoor Advertising Association of America, $10,000,000 worth of the
cost of the billboard campaign is being donated by OAAA member companies. In
other words, it is possible that this advertising blitz is costing FBL and Philip
Anschutz very little money out-of-pocket.

Some of the billboards in the Portland area have been edited, clearly by those
who disagree with their message. Several posts to the newswire have suggested
further billboard liberation
as a means of responding to the campaign. (portland indymedia does not endorse
any particular political tactic other than the legal exercise of free speech.)
No other media outlet seems to have revealed the FBL-Anschutz connection yet.
Here at portland indymedia, the story was uncovered by several different individuals
who researched and posted their findings to the open
publishing newswire. This collaborative process showed that—not
only can anyone become the media—but
that we can also do a better job than the so-called "professionals"
who were asleep at the wheel once again with an important story.
Newswire posts: [ "Foundation
for a Better Life?" | "Foundation
for a better life: more" | "Foundation
for a better life, even more" ]
Websites: [ Foundation
for a Better Life | Billboard
Liberation Front ]
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