Nuclear Plant Is a ‘Weapon’ In Hard-Hitting PSA Effort

Environmental group enlists HBR, The Think Tank to handle creative

A campaign scheduled to launch this month ups the ante in the fight to shutter the highly contested Indian Point Power Plant by calling the Buchanan, N.Y., plant a potential “weapon of mass destruction.”

Riverkeeper, an environmental group that has lobbied politicians to close the plant, worked with two New York shops, The Think Tank and Hanft Byrne Raboy & Partners. Riverkeeper executive director Alex Matthiessen said both agencies came up with the strategy independently and that both are working on creative.

A TV spot from HBR, still in production, shows a U.S. map that slowly ignites in New York state. Shots of the burning map are juxtaposed with stills of New York scenes—shopkeepers arguing, a couple on the Staten Island ferry, people running in Central Park. In the background, jackhammers, sirens and ice cream trucks create a montage of sound that quiets as the map burns. Finally, there is silence.

A voiceover by The Sopranos star Lorraine Bracco, who sits on Riverkeeper’s board, says, “Indian Point Power Plant is just miles from New York City. And terrorists are prepared to use it as a weapon of mass destruction.” A graphic reads, “Indian Point is a weapon. Don’t let New York be the victim. Close it at” Copy is still being finalized.

Three print ads by The Think Tank show a photo of the plant with varying copy. One reads, “What does a weapon of mass destruction look like?” Another print ad carries the headline, “Would you rather save $75 a year on your electric bill or live with radiation sickness?” The work urges readers to contact Gov. George Pataki’s office to join the effort to close the plant.

Riverkeeper had been lobbying to shut down Indian Point based on environmental concerns, but, after Sept. 11, 2001, it recast the plant as a potential terrorist target. “When you think of it [as a weapon], it becomes much more active and much more scary,” said Doug Raboy, HBR creative director. HBR executed the television and radio portions of the campaign; The Think Tank created print and outdoor ads.

The spot is expected to be offered later this month to cable outlets that include NY1, the Food Network, A&E and Lifetime.

The New York Power Authority, which oversees the plant, declined comment.