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Chemistry Council's 'Essential' Campaign Is Designed to Win Clout for Plastics

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By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, October 6, 2005

In a series of television ads, a patient's X-ray disappears before his eyes, and then the cushion under him dissolves. A woman's alarm clock disappears from view, as do some of her prescription capsules. As does Jasper the dog's chewy.

The disappearing acts are part of the American Chemistry Council's new "essential2" campaign to make the public aware -- especially the public that works on Capitol Hill -- of the importance of chemistry to all aspects of peoples' lives.

The campaign "is a piece of our overall advocacy program," says Jack Gerard , who officially became chief executive of the ACC July 1.

Gerard wants the public to understand that chemicals is a $500 billion industry, directly employing 885,000 people. The lack of awareness of the industry's importance to people's health and welfare, he says, is partly responsible for its inadequate clout in Washington.

Besides the essential2campaign -- which will cost $15 million through the end of the year and $20 million next year -- ACC needs to mobilize its rank and file to become more political, and the industry needs to play a larger role in raising campaign money, Gerard says.

"It's been clear to me that the American Chemistry Council has been punching below its weight," he said.

Over the next few months, he says, the ACC will review its lobby operations and relationships with outside lobbyists. Among its hired guns are Dutko Worldwide and the Holland & Knight law firm.

One of the chemistry council's top legislative issues is unfinished business from the energy bill, particularly measures that would bring down natural gas prices. The industry is hoping for the opening of oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The ACC has been in turmoil for several years. Having merged with the American Plastics Council in 2001, culture clashes roiled the group. The essential2campaign supplants the "Plastics Makes It Possible" campaign. But council officials say the new advertising also features the importance of plastics.

Council members include such companies as Dow Chemical Co., BASF Corp., Bayer Corp., DuPont, Eli Lilly and Co., Honeywell Inc., and Occidental Chemical Corp.

Gerard joined ACC from the National Mining Association.

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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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