The Mobil Oil Flack Who Brought Us False Equivalence, Advertorials, and Corporate Free Speech

In episodes four and five of Drilled, we tell the story of Herb Schmertz, former VP of Public Affairs for Mobil Oil. Schmertz brought many new PR tactics to the oil industry; he invented the advertorial, bullied journalists into false equivalence (what he called "creative confrontation"), and pushed for the first big corporate personhood case—long before Citizens United—back in the 1970s. He also coined the term "affinity of purpose" marketing to describe Mobil's longtime funding of Masterpiece Theatre and various other PBS programming, which helped to establish Mobil as "the thinking man's oil company."

Collected below are examples of the advertorials Schmertz distributed (in numerous interviews he refers to them as "pamphlets" and to The New York Times as an excellent distribution system for the company's pamphlets), as well as some of the documents we referred to in the episode (speeches Schmertz gave, transcripts of interviews with him, and a Mobil doc explaining its advertorial strategy and the success of it). You can also listen to the episodes wherever you get your podcasts, or via the embedded players below.



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