Advanced Biofuel Initiative: Time for the Offense to Take the Field

By Joe Jobe | January 12, 2011

No team wins the Super Bowl with defense alone. It takes a strong defense and an effective offense to win. That was the case last year when the Saints beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV and it will be the case this year as we watch the action from Arizona at the Biodiesel Conference & Expo Super Bowl Party. For the past two and a half years, the biodiesel industry has been under attack and has mounted an impressive and successful defense. As we continue to deploy our strong defense of the industry, the time has come for a striking offense to put some serious points on the board.

Established Defense

Recent examples of the National Biodiesel Board’s defensive strength include 8,200 comments submitted to the U.S. EPA during the RFS2 comment period; persuasive and accurate formal comments on the draft rule that ultimately secured a role for all domestic feedstocks for biodiesel production in RFS2; a stepped-up sustainability program that developed empirical data to refute unfounded criticisms about sustainability, including a massive communications campaign to educate reporters and editorial boards of major news publications; a successful campaign to secure renewal of the biodiesel tax incentive despite impossible odds, and a successful outcome of the petroleum industry lawsuit over the RFS2, of which NBB was an intervener; and a large list of continued technical successes including growing OEM support, progress in pipelines, progress in Bioheat markets and fuel quality.  

These hard-fought defensive successes have forged new pathways, disarmed threats, safeguarded valuable opportunities and stomped out fires. And now it is time to execute a powerful offense.

Offensive Counter

This year, with unprecedented new support from farmer members and the Soybean Checkoff, NBB is introducing a bold, new, national communications initiative. This aggressive offensive move is aimed at reinvigorating the positive image of biodiesel and to properly define it as America’s Advanced Biofuel rather than a conventional biofuel. This bold communications and outreach project will target influential opinion and thought leaders. The program, called the Advanced Biofuel Initiative, will highlight the multiple benefits of our fuel and dispel misinformation that has unduly harmed biodiesel’s image. It will also better position biodiesel to capture a significant portion of the 1.35 billion gallon advanced biofuel market created by the RFS2 in 2011.

In addition the many beneficial offensive plays of the initiative, it will also further help us address predictable attacks on biodiesel related to food prices, land use change, and other unwarranted criticism that is likely to tackle our industry as we recover and return to a position of growth. So far checkoff funders have committed more than $3 million for this project. This is new funding that goes above and beyond their traditional level of support. This figure is also more than double NBB’s current communications budget and will grow the overall NBB budget by nearly 25 percent. The program is intended to continue for three years in an effort to fill existing information voids among those audiences that have the potential to be the most influential, or conversely the most detrimental.

The Play Book

The Advanced Biofuel Initiative offers a balanced game plan and includes strategic advertising as well as targeted one-on-one outreach. The scope of the Advanced Biofuel Initiative is designed to make a notable and lasting impact within narrowly defined audiences. Advertising will be primarily targeted in Washington and will include local television, radio, print, and internet advertising.  Also, for the first time in the industry’s history, we are slated to run a national cable ad spot. This bold advertising campaign will be matched with strategic tactics to strike rumors and misinformation at their root.Targets for these efforts will be focused on environmental and animal agriculture leaders, the leading sources of misinformation and negative publicity about biofuels. Strategies include one-on-one outreach, building partnerships and alliances, a presence at leading industry gatherings, and regionally based outreach and participation.

This generous new support of U.S. soybean farmers could not have been better timed to help provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the beleaguered biodiesel industry. It is a tremendous leveraging opportunity that allows industry contributions to be applied primarily toward our ongoing policy objectives. While I can’t yet wager who will take home the big win at this year’s Super Bowl, I am confident it will be the team whose offense compliments its defense. I am excited to see how far this time-tested strategy will take our industry.

Joe Jobe, CEO, National Biodiesel Board

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