The American Chemistry Council may be taking a page from the American Plastics Council's playbook in an attempt to improve its image.
The ACC will make a decision this spring on a communications program that would be ``similar in size and scope'' to the one APC launched several years ago, said Nova Chemicals Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Lipton, who serves as an ACC board member.
``APC spends most of its money on TV commercials that focus on young, married women,'' Lipton said at Chemical Market Associates Inc.'s World Petrochemical Conference, held March 26-27 in Houston. ``The commercials help [young, married women] feel that they and their families are safer because of plastic products.
``The concept has worked extremely well for plastics and it can work the same way for chemicals.''
However, Lipton did caution that the chemicals campaign might be a little more difficult because consumers don't interact with chemicals in the same way they do with plastics. He also said the campaign would not begin on a large scale until the chemical industry ``returned to a reasonable profit.''
Late last year, Lipton suggested a $40 million-a-year ACC image campaign. At that time, ACC officials said they were reviewing their options.
Lipton - whose Pittsburgh-based firm is a major producer of polyethylene and polystyrene - placed part of the blame for the American public's negative view of the chemical industry on ``professional environmentalists'' who ``attack what the public already fears.''
He cited a recent poll that revealed only 14 percent of Americans have a positive view of the chemical industry.
``For [professional environmentalists], it's `no fear, no funding, no job,' '' Lipton said. ``And some politicians go along with them because they want to show the public that they're sensitive and aware of environmental issues.''
He added: ``The U.S. public sees us as a troubling group of companies, in spite of our contributions to the economy and society. The public wouldn't stand for taking wine, chocolate or aspirin out of the market, but tell them that PVC is bad and politicians are lining up to support the issue.
``We've been too rational for our own good. We assumed that people would understand the value of our products.''