Sunday, October 02, 2011

Better Life, My Ass

They are the coolest commercials on television. Classic rock music, diversely attractive people doing exciting and rewarding yet unselfish things, exhortations to live life large.

If you're a boomer like me, you can't resist dancing a little. Smiling. Wondering what obviously liberal group has the money to spend on so many spots with such high production values.

You see this one coming, right?

By Lindsay Beyerstein at MajikThise in November 2004:

What is the "Foundation for a Better Life"?

Who are these people and what do they want?

The first I heard of them was last night at the movies. The Foundation bought up half the pre-movie ad time to show uplifting TV spots about "Including Others" and "Helping Others."

The FFBL describes itself as follows:

The Foundation for a Better Life is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization started in 2000. The programs and projects of the Foundation are non-commercial and are solely humanitarian endeavors; the Foundation does not seek nor accept contributions or donations of any kind and is privately funded. The Foundation supports the belief that each individual is entitled to personal dignity and self-respect and that most individuals are willing, when given the opportunity, to take personal responsibility for their actions and well-being. The Foundation also believes that capable people may also benefit from encouragement and reminders from time to time. Generally people who have the opportunity and the ability will make appropriate common sense decisions which will have a positive and uplifting effect on themselves, their community, and their country.

The Foundation claims to be non-religious and non-political. Perhaps I need more moral uplift to combat the cynicism rampant in this day and age, but I suspect there's a catch. The FFLB spots remind me of those free Book of Mormon TV ads from the 1980s.

If anyone knows who's behind this outfit, please leave a comment. If anyone has already written on the subject, please send a link and I'll post it. I'm very curious.

Update: Thanks to readers Wayne and Paperwight of Fairshot.

Paperwight writes:

It's a guy named Phil Anschutz, a conservative Denver oil, internet and media guy. See here. Cursory Google searching and internic domain name registration checks seem to confirm.

See also

Wayne unearthed another hint of a Mormon connection: Gary Dixon is the President of the FFBL and an Honored Brigham Young University alumnus.

Here are some excerpts from the San Diego Indymedia item described in the Portland Alliance article cited by Paperwight (above) Colorado billionaire supporting nationwide propaganda campaign:

Philip Anschutz, who the BBC described as having "a reputation as one of the hungriest of US corporate vultures", is currently using his wealth and power to support a slick ad campaign appearing on 10,000 billboards, in hundreds of movie theaters, and on nearly a thousand TV stations across the country. The Foundation for a Better Life (FBL)—the non-profit entity that officially produces and distributes the ads—has no contact information on its website,, but a series of posts and comments to the portland indymedia open publishing newswire uncovered the connection between Anschutz and FBL.[...]

[Anschutz'] corporate empire includes a majority holding in Qwest Communications and ownership of several sports teams and arenas. Significantly, he also owns the United Artists, Regal and Edwards movie theater chains, where the FBL commercials are being shown. Whether or not FBL is paying for these slots is unknown. According to Outdoor Advertising Association of America, $10,000,000 worth of the cost of the billboard campaign is being donated by OAAA member companies. In other words, it is possible that this advertising blitz is costing FBL and Philip Anschutz very little money out-of-pocket. [...]

Yeah. A wingnut freakazoid on the danger level of the Koch brothers is using liberal music, liberal imagery, liberal language, liberal values to ... to .... what?

This has been going on for years, and the superficial message hasn't changed. If Anschutz has an ulterior motive, it's still hidden.

But there's one big clue that this is not what it appears.

Media Matters, last December:

Even when Fox is reporting on a completely innocuous story, they can't help themselves from lying. Fox & Friends ran a segment hosting one of their most prominent advertisers, the Foundation for a Better Life, and purporting to report "who's behind" the group, they hosted an unobjectionable, heroic woman who is featured in one of their ads. But, she's not "who's behind" the group; indeed, it doesn't even seem that she works for them. In fact, the actual people behind the group are right-wing, religious, anti-gay conservatives.

I think Media Matters got one thing wrong here: This is most certainly not "completely innocuous," and Fox does nothing accidentally or coincidentally.

Fox deliberately lied about the real person behind the FFBL, and they did so for a reason.

The FFBL and are a poisoned apple. Don't eat it.

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