Menckens Ghost
The secret of why Exxon Mobil made baloney for the Masters  

By Mencken’s Ghost

April 11, 2012

If you watched the Masters golf tournament, then you saw the nauseating public relations propaganda by one of the sponsors, Exxon Mobil.  In the repetitious commercial spots, the oil giant bemoaned the state of American education in math and science, flashed on the screen the names of the many countries that surpass the United States in test scores in these subjects, and made the hilarious claim that the problem can be fixed by investing more money in teachers. 

Now a secret recording has come to light of a company meeting in which the decision was made to run the spots.  Attending the meeting were the CEO, the Advertising VP, the Diversity VP, and the Regulatory Affairs VP.  Here’s a transcript:

Advertising VP:  I’m going to show you a commercial spot that we would like to run during the Masters.  It has nothing to do with our business of producing oil.  Its purpose is to counter the administration’s demonizing and lying about our industry and to help change the public’s perception of Exxon Mobil.  It does this by saying that Exxon Mobil wants to improve public education by investing more in teachers--a theme that always works with the public.   

[Shows commercial]

CEO:  Congratulations, very well done.  But are viewers going to fall for it?  After all, per-pupil education spending in the U.S. has tripled in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last 50 years and now ranks near the top worldwide.  Moreover, teachers receive above-average pay, benefits and job security for their easy college major, work hours, working conditions, and job security.  Furthermore, teacher unions, which are as powerful as car dealers and realtors in state legislatures, know how to feather the nests of their members.  The sad fact is that if teacher pay were doubled tomorrow, we’d still have the same school bureaucracy and monopoly, the same tolerance for poor performance, and the same command-and-control system.

Advertising VP:  Focus groups show that people do indeed fall for the spin and are ignorant of the facts that you cited.

Diversity VP:  I have a concern about the countries you show that surpass the United States in math and science.  Just about every one of them is racially homogeneous, with populations that are over 90% white or Asian.  No Latin American, African, or Middle Eastern countries are shown.

Advertising VP:  Good point, but the facts are the facts, which are due to cultural and economic differences, not inherent racial differences. But what I can do to address your concern is to flash the countries on the screen very quickly so that no one notices the commonality between them--not that the vast majority of viewers would ever notice anyway.

Regulatory Affairs VP:  I think it’s brilliant to get teachers, the education lobby, and soccer moms and dads on our side.  The public and politicians will begin making a connection between our profits and money for education.  Outstanding.

CEO:   The silver lining of having an inferior education system is that we can run spots like this and be confident that 99% of viewers won’t have the smarts to see through it.  Nice going.

Of course, the above is fiction.  But, sadly, it’s probably close to the truth.


Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at ccan2@aol.com or ghost@menckensghost.com.