Plastic products are the focus of one of the American Chemistry Council's new 30-second television ads as the group continues its $20 million promotional campaign for a third year.
``The primary objective is to close the knowledge gap and help people understand the relationship of chemicals to everyday life,'' said Jack Gerard, ACC president and chief executive officer, in a telephone interview. ``The more informed society is, the higher the level of public discourse [will be] around some of the public policy issues.''
Specifically, one ACC ad focuses on air bags, cell phones, surfboards, contact lenses, bulletproof and safety vests and hospital bags with the tag line, ``The plastics, the medicines, the innovations that make life modern come from one place - American chemistry.''
The latest ads premiered Oct. 23. The ``essential2'' campaign, which debuted in September 2005, began after the 10-year ad campaign of the American Plastics Council - now the plastics division of the ACC - was shelved.
ACC said the industry's mean favorability rating among the public is at 49, on a scale of 100, compared with 47 before the ads began. It did not say how that compares with other industries, or whether the plastics industry has a separate favorability rating.
Regulation of chemicals is tightening in the European Union. There also have been selected product bans, including the California prohibition on some phthalates in products intended for children under 3, signed into law this month and scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2009.
In addition, bans on a number of plastics products made from chemicals, most notably plastic bags and take-out polystyrene containers, continue to increase in the U.S and globally. There are also efforts to restrict the use of PVC in some children's and medical products.
``It is important that we engage in a public dialogue,'' said Gerard. ``If you surveyed the public generally, probably few would recognize or understand that the bulletproof vest that our soldiers are using ... come from the business of chemistry.''
A second ad focuses on how chemicals contribute to farming, health, water, energy and beauty.
Roughly $14 million of the $20 million campaign will go toward broadcast ads, and print and banner ads on Web sites, with the rest for public relations and employee communication efforts.
``We haven't changed the strategy,'' said Gerard. ``It is still designed to close the gap. These ads are the handshake that gets us started on our conversation with the American public on our industry.''
The association said traffic on its Web site has increased more than 900 percent since the ad campaign began, and it gets 300-400 inquiries per month from the public about the industry, compared three or four per month previously.
Roughly 81 percent of visitors to the 3-year-old, 5,000-square-foot Fantastic Plastic Works exhibit at the Innoventions pavilion of Epcot theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., said they now have a favorable impression of the plastics industry. In addition, 62 percent said they developed a more positive perception of the industry after seeing the exhibit.