National Campaign Takes on Natural Gas Toxins With a Fake Reality Show

By Kyle O'Brien 

Reality shows are a treasure trove of toxic personalities. Zulu Alpha Kilo New York decided that setup was the perfect vehicle to call attention to the 21 air toxins found in natural gas.

The Gas Leaks Project, a nonprofit dedicated to exposing the truth about the dangers of methane and the fossil fuel industry’s disinformation campaign, along with Zulu Alpha Kilo NY launched “Hot & Toxic,” a national campaign capitalizing on the toxic tropes of reality television to let consumers know about the health and environmental risks associated with natural gas.

The public service campaign launched with a two-minute film and billboards in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. With a $1 million media buy, the campaign is considered to be the largest effort to directly take on the fossil fuel industry’s misleading marketing of “natural” gas, using toxic reality TV personas to highlight the cancer-causing chemicals in methane gas.


The campaign uses parody to deliver the message, personifying the 21 hazardous air toxins found in methane gas during a two-minute “trailer” for a fake reality TV series.

In the film, an unsuspecting homeowner must live with these hot and toxic housemates after finding her dream home has a “natural” gas hookup. Every component of the creative campaign, from the trailer to billboards to short-form social content and digital ads appear as a promotion for a new reality TV show.

“While recent studies have created a sense of urgency around the elevated health risks associated with methane gas in the home, it’s not always easy or accessible for people to understand,” said James Hadgis, executive director of the Gas Leaks Project, in a statement. “Our ‘Hot & Toxic’ parody campaign uses comedy to deliver a really urgent message—that methane gas is hot for the planet and toxic for your health.”

The campaign comes amid growing attention on the climate and the country’s dependence on natural gas, including the Biden administration’s recent decision to temporarily pause permitting for new gas export facilities. Gas primarily consists of methane, a greenhouse gas that warms the planet 80 times faster than carbon dioxide. Studies done over the last few decades have documented that gas stoves produce air toxins linked to asthma and cancer. Pro fuel organizations like the American Gas Association have borrowed tobacco industry tactics to mislead the public about the threat, according to a story from NPR.

With the campaign, the Gas Leaks Project will target millennial consumers in a dozen states with a high percentage of homes with gas appliances. The campaign will also feature out-of-home advertising, social media influencers and themed events this spring in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

“Hot & Toxic” was created by Zulu Alpha Kilo New York and directed by Edmond Hawkins, a comedy director, writer and producer known for his work on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

“Humor felt like the smartest creative way in—we wanted to educate people on the dangers of ‘natural’ gas without making them feel bad about it. Every creative extension of the campaign borrows from the tropes of promoting reality TV—something people can’t help but watch, especially when things go wrong,” said Tim Gordon, partner and chief creative officer for Zulu Alpha Kilo NY in a statement.

In conjunction with “Hot & Toxic,” the Gas Leaks Project is launching a petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission asking that they require manufacturers and distributors of gas stoves to include warning labels informing consumers about the dangerous health impacts.