Some sponsored content is sophisticated, designed to trade on a credible outlet's good name. Other sponsored content seems like a total waste. But if you're an oil company with an advertising budget that's effectively infinite, then the efficient use of funds isn't exactly a concern.
That’s why it's not that weird that Chevron is sponsoring an "Energy of the Future" page on RealClearEnergy. Try not to laugh, because contrary to Chevron’s abysmal environmental record, the page boldly claims, "Chevron’s commitment to sustainability has never been stronger," before displaying a RealClearEnergy video about how, among other things, AI will supposedly make EVs more energy efficient.
After that, it’s just a whole bunch of anti-EV disinformation. While RealClearEnergy's "originals" are op-ads for the industry, the other usual function of the site is to aggregate links to elsewhere — and this is where the sponsored content gets tricky. RCE is also publishing excerpts of a bunch of anti-EV stories, but instead of linking to the original content, it is sending users to the Chevron-sponsored disinfo hub.
Instead of linking directly to the story on Autoblog, for example, RCE excerpted "Trump's Latest Villain: Electric Cars" and then sent readers looking for the full story to the Chevron page — with the URL extension #evsales — where readers could ultimately find the story again and click through to the actual source.
Apparently this is an intentional strategy, since it’s repeated for "Electric Cars Aren't Nearly as Green as People Think," which again links to the Chevron-sponsored page, this time with the URL extension #evnotgreen, and "I'm a Motors Expert: Here's Why EVs Suck," which is similarly linked with an #evproblems tag.
Wondering what "12 Key Concerns With Electric Cars Today" might be? Before you can read about them at HotCars, you'll be treated to the Chevron page again, this time with the #evissues extension. Only then can you click through to the numerically-challenged listicle, with a headline claiming 12 concerns, a subheading saying the list is of "10 roadblocks," text introducing "10 of the biggest concerns," and the list itself consisting of not 10, not 12, but 13 issues.
EV critics apparently can't even count, but Chevron's got an advertising budget to burn through, so props to RealClearEnergy for taking what is surely a sizable amount of cash from Chevron and then using other people's content to fill it.
Must be nice!