It was a bold move — though bold may be too kind a word — to equate those who believe in global warming with Ted Kaczynski, otherwise known as the Unabomber. But indeed, Chicago-based non-profit Heartland Institute paid for a large highway billboard featuring Kaczynski’s grizzled mugshot alongside the words, “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”
The ad, set beside the Eisenhower Expressway in a Chicago suburb, was intended to be the first in a series of related billboards, all featuring infamous figures like Fidel Castro and Charles Manson, the Chicago Tribune reports. These people have all expressed some sort of belief in global warming, according to Heartland. But we won’t get the opportunity to see the rest of these dazzling advertisements, because swift (and angry) criticism has already led the group to cancel the campaign.
Canceled it, yes. Apologized for it? Not quite.
“We know that our billboard angered and disappointed many of Heartland’s friends and supporters, but we hope they understand what we were trying to do with this experiment,” the Institute’s president, Joseph Bast, said in a statement. “We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.”
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Plans were in the works to feature Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee, who was shot dead by police after he took hostages at the Discovery Channel’s headquarters in 2010.
If you’re wondering what message the group was hoping to deliver by featuring these people, so are we. According to Heartland’s website, “what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the ‘mainstream’ media, and liberal politicians say about global warming.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, found the billboard so off-putting he threatened to cancel his speaking engagement at the institute’s upcoming climate change conference if the group didn’t pull the ad. He opposed it because “this type of name calling did more to distract from the issues at hand than advance a positive dialogue,” a spokesperson told the Tribune.
Though Heartland pulled the ad and canceled the campaign within 24 hours, the group defends its deliberately provocative strategy and its “attempt to turn the tables on the climate alarmists by using their own tactics but with the opposite message,” the Tribune reports. All we can hope is that the organization’s marketing team hasn’t spent too much time designing the rest of the campaign’s ads, because we’re quite certain no one will be warming up to the idea of those either.