From clean coal carolers to the Coen brothers take on coal as "a breath of fresh air" (wait, that one was a spoof), we've seen strange things happen when the coal industry tries to create a new image.
Now, the Minerals Council of Australia appears to have scored a similar goal with its short Coal Is Amazing ad. Featuring a lump of coal (yes, really), the ad seeks to reintroduce viewers to a resource they are probably already familiar with, and give it a sexy sense of modernity and excitement.
Even if you ignore the misleading stats about coal being able to cut its emissions 40 percent (there is only one carbon capture and storage plant anywhere in the world right now, and only one currently planned at all for Australia), you have to wonder what these folks were thinking.
The odd, sci-fi approach and hyperbolic enthusiasm just lends itself to satire. And in an age of social media, that satire has not been slow in coming. The #Coalisamazing hash tag quickly became populated with photos of smoke stacks, smog-filled skies, coal seam fires and melting ice caps.
And consequently—as is the way in our modern world—this viral online phenomenon led to articles in the mainstream press from The Guardian to the Daily Mirror picking up on the story. Word is, an environmental site called TreeHugger also plans to cover the story now that it's gone viral.
You'd really think that folks would have learned by now.