Pacific Campaign House partnered with NRDC AF for a political advocacy ad campaign to hold Big Oil accountable for their defunct oil wells that are damaging California communities.


The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund (NRDC AF) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization building political support for candidates and lobbying lawmakers around issues of climate change, and nature and wildlife conservation and protection.

the brief

Across California, Big Oil has abandoned used oil wells that leached dangerous chemicals and toxins into historically low-income communities. In order to protect both our environment and residents’ health across the Golden State, NRDC AF sought a creative solution to draw attention, educate, and persuade legislators to take action against these “orphaned oil wells” by passing AB 1167.

the challenge

While our ultimate goal was to urge legislators to take action via passing AB 1167, our ad campaign audience was both geographically and professionally diverse. Our secondary audience also included identifying, targeting, and persuading California state regulators, the governor’s office, their staffs, as well as drum up public support for our campaign.

Our second challenge was creating compelling and persuasive ads that could capture our audience’s attention while educating them on environmental, economic, and health consequences of this complex issue.

the strategy

audience targeting:
  1. Legislators, political influencers, and their staff: It was important to reach our political stakeholder audience where and when they were in the mindset to best consume and digest our campaign. As such, we geofenced the state capitol and surrounding government buildings, and served ads to individuals who frequented or spent over three-hours in those locations. Additionally, we met our audience when they were in the mindset most likely to consume information on our campaign, by placing targeted ads in trade publications like CalMatters, Capitol Morning Report, and the Sacramento Bee.
  2. Californians most likely to be impacted by abandoned oil wells: In addition to targeting the policy decision-makers and influencers, it was also important to draw public awareness of the impacts/side effects of these toxic oil wells in the communities they occupy. In order to reach this audience, first we geo-targeted communities they occupy. In order to reach this audience, first we geo-targeted communities based on abandoned oil well locations and delivered our static, animated, and video ads. We also took out ads in the LA Times – the primary newspaper for those most likely to be impacted by these deserted oil wells.


creative, messaging, & trafficking:

Given our audiences and subsequent ad placements, we designed our creative strategy to both cater to the audience and the ad unit:

  1. Local and statewide newspapers and industry newsletters: For our placements in publications and media outlets, we created NRDC AF-branded ads that evoke feeling through compelling copy and eye-catching animated visuals. Our series of HTML5 ads (ie. animated banners) clearly outlined the problem these oil wells pose and presented our proposed solution.
  2. Online video: Outside of the political placements, our messaging strategy included using a 30-second video ad to explain the issue (both to residents and to political influencers) in a concise and compelling way. Video provides a bit more “real estate” to convey a niche message like this one, and allowed us to traffic our ads on Youtube and CTV/OTT.  CTV/OTT was especially important because these ad units are non-skippable and require the viewer to watch the ad in its entirety before moving on. That meant that combined with our targeting, we had a captive audience to communicate our ask.

our impact

As a result of our targeted multi-channel strategy, our paid ad campaign delivered a total of 2,728,585 impressions, driving 2,610 clicks across YouTube, connected TV (CTV), over-the-top streaming devices (OTT), and industry/geographic awareness ads in publications like Capitol Morning Report, CalMatters, Sacramento Bee, and the Los Angeles Times.

$100 million earmarked by Gov. Newsom
370 orphan wells will be cleaned in the first phase
9 million Californians living healthier

While AB 1167 has made it through committee and is on its way to Appropriations, within two months of launching our campaign, state regulators publicly committed to capping orphaned oil wells across the state. Additionally, Governor Newsom earmarked $100 million in the state budget to address this issue.