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.
- 1978 briefing for the American Management Association, “Corporations and the First Amendment”
- 1982 internal Mobil progress report on its advertorial program, uncovered by the Climate Investigations Center
- 1984 article by Schmertz in the journal Communications and Law, entitled “The Press and The Public”
- 1987 Herb Schmertz speech “Patronage, Creativity, and American Culture: Patronage that Pays”given at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT
- 1991 transcript of interview with Laurence Jarvik for the book Masterpiece Theatre and the Politics of Quality