Oil lobby launches Super Bowl ad blitz

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A stadium of cheering fans with planes flying in a darkened sky overhead.
Superbowl XLIII. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia Commons)

Millions will be glued to their TV sets this Sunday to see the epic clash between NFL powerhouses the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. And in between commercial breaks, they might even see some football.

The American Petroleum Institute, the trade association for the oil and natural gas industry, spent at least $73.5 million on advertising in 2012. This year, they’ll be dropping $100,000 for a 30-second D.C. spot during halftime according to an ad contract from local NBC affiliate WRC. The ad was picked up by Political Ad Sleuth, the Sunlight Foundation’s political ad tracker.

That six-figure buy includes the single biggest spot in a recent advertising campaign by the trade group. Since Jan. 6, the group has been running pro-pipeline ads in the D.C. market touting Keystone’s bipartisan support and potential for job growth. The project has been stalled for years lacking the congressional go-ahead.

The oil lobby also agreed to spend just under $80,000 on a separate ad buy on WRC. Transcanada — the pipeline company — has also bought up large chunks of air space in the Washington market in recent weeks.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced last December that approval of the long-stalled pipeline, connecting Canadian tar sands to Houston refineries, would be one of his first priorities in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Like most industry trade groups, however, the oil association has a laundry list of items on their legislative to-do list. In addition to Keystone approval, recent ad campaigns have touted fracking, while recent White House mandates protecting stretches of land and sea from oil and gas exploration is sure to ruffle some feathers.

Regardless of the content, the Super Bowl offers an unparalleled advocacy opportunity. Last year’s Super Bowl broke records for the most watched program in sports history, averaging a 112 million viewers.

Sunlight’s calls to WRC and the American Petroleum Institute were not immediately returned. This post will be updated if and when we receive a reply.

Update 1/29/15: An API spokesperson has confirmed to trade publication Fuel Fix that the Super Bowl spot is about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

See the ad from the group’s YouTube channel below: