Ad campaign uses dead presidents to make nat gas pitch

The ghosts of dead presidents will be coming soon to Houston movie theaters.

The appearance of former presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan before summer blockbusters comes courtesy of a new campaign by the American Clean Skies Foundation, a natural gas advocacy group.

In ads running in Landmark Theaters in Houston, New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the group uses old footage of the presidents giving historic speeches at pivotal moments to highlight President Barack Obama’s decision to tout a 100-year supply of natural gas during his 2012 State of the Union speech.

Featured speeches include Reagan urging Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Nixon promising that the U.S. would meet its own energy needs within a decade and Kennedy insisting the U.S. should commit to landing a man on the moon. Other excerpts include Johnson’s civil rights call for the U.S. in 1965 to “overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice” and former President Jimmy Carter decrying the United States’ dependence on foreign oil in 1979.

Interspersed among the archival footage are simple screens asking: “What if we didn’t listen?” and “What if we ignored the challenge?”

The ads end with Obama’s State of the Union plea for the U.S. to wean itself off foreign energy sources.

“The price of a barrel of oil is now one of the most dangerous weapons in the world,” Obama is shown saying. “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years.”

American Clean Skies Foundation said it is initially spending $350,000 to run the ads in movie theaters and on Bloomberg TV. They also are available on YouTube and a companion website with pages touting the benefits of using natural gas as a replacement for petroleum-based fuels in cars and planes.

Foundation CEO Gregory Staple said the ads are meant to drive home the message “that natural gas provides the country with an unprecedented new opportunity to improve our energy security.”

“We wanted to compare President Obama’s State of the Union commitment to natural gas to other historic calls to action by Democratic and Republican presidents alike,” Staple added.

The Clean Skies Foundation’s main financial backer is natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp.

Haven’t yet seen the ads running before a flick? You can watch them below.