When "American Idol" hits the air tonight, local talent will be on display — but not singing on stage.

During the popular show's commercial breaks, the Menlo Park-based Alliance for Climate Protection will officially launch a massive, mainstream advertising campaign against global warming with its first television spot, "Anthem."

The new ad will air on network and cable television shows, including "Law & Order" and "House," as part of a three-year, large-scale campaign expected to cost $300 million, according to several news reports.

Former Vice President Al Gore founded the environmental nonprofit in 2006 using proceeds from his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," and accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize at its former Palo Alto office last October.

Gore, also the Alliance's chairman, donated his $750,000 share of the peace prize to the nonprofit, which recently moved to Menlo Park, then matched that sum with his own money to help finance the campaign, Alliance spokesman Brian Hardwick said.

"The vice president looked at the entire landscape of what's happening on climate protection and saw thousands of great efforts happening on the local level, as well as lobbying in Washington, but what was missing was this large-scale marketing and mobilization campaign," Hardwick said.

"We can solve the climate crisis, but it will require a major shift in public opinion and engagement," Gore said in a statement on the campaign this week.


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"The technologies exist, but our elected leaders don't yet have the political will to take the bold actions required."

Developed over the past 12 months, the campaign leverages its sheer size, which enables it to access a much wider swath of the national population that individual activists and local groups simply don't have the resources to reach, Hardwick said.

"We're going to be in people's living rooms for 'American Idol,' for example," he said.

Cathy Zoi, CEO of the Alliance, said the ad features historic American moments before directing people to a new Web site, http://www.wecansolveit.org.

"We focused on achievements that were made possible because the American people set our differences aside and pulled together — winning World War II, overcoming segregation and putting a man on the moon," Zoi said in an e-mail Tuesday.

Upcoming ads will focus on "the need to break down traditional partisan and ideological barriers to tackle this problem," she wrote.

The campaign also includes forming partnerships with large, influential groups such as the United Steelworkers Union and the National Audubon Society. And the nonprofit is working on developing a climate pledge for the 2.7 million Girl Scouts nationwide, Zoi said.

Karen Amon, a Palo Alto realtor who has been presenting a version of the slide show from "An Inconvenient Truth" as part of Gore's "The Climate Project," said the new campaign seems well-positioned to reach a wider audience.

"I think a lot of people may feel like 'we get it,' and it becomes old news where it's not," Amon said. "It needs to stay in the forefront."

E-mail Kristina Peterson at kpeterson@dailynewsgroup.com.