Consumers apparently despise BP slightly less than they used to

By David Kiefaber on Wed Oct 13 2010


After spending months in an oil-encrusted toilet thanks to that nasty business in the Gulf of Mexico, BP's image is apparently starting to recover, albeit slowly. In a recent poll asking consumers how they feel about public institutions, 20 percent said they were "somewhat negative" about BP and 30 percent were "very negative," but those numbers are an improvement over a June poll, in which 44 percent of respondents said they were "very negative" toward BP. I credit this to the spill fading from the headlines, because BP's efforts to clean up the mess it made have been hampered by things like restricting press access to the spill sites and Photoshopping pictures of the spill itself. It's like they're even more evil when they're trying to be good! The other option for this small upturn in public favor is that there's too much else to be angry about right now, so people don't have the emotional stamina to sustain a fiery hatred of BP. If that's true, BP could eventually get back in everyone's good graces. It'll just have to wait a while longer, until everyone forgets what weapons-grade assholes they are.

Cameron International: the silent brand in the BP oil-spill debacle

Posted on Mon Jun 14 2010


Thanks to the (still out-of-control) oil spill sullying the Gulf of Mexico, a Google search under "BP" now yields 200 million hits. BP has, of course, become synonymous with this real-life ecological horror movie, and it's anyone's guess what the ultimate damage to its brand will be. (That's assuming it survives. Analyst Matt Simmons told the CNBC show Fast Money on June 8 that BP "is not going to last as a company more than a matter of months.") But while BP takes an hourly battering over the spill, one brand with nearly as much involvement in the incident has hardly been mentioned.
  That would be Cameron International, the Houston-based company that made the blowout preventer (BOP) that was supposed to seal the drill pipe on the ocean floor with hydraulically powered "shear rams" in the event of an emergency. News reports following the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig said that workers had tried to activate the BOP manually before abandoning the drilling rig, but to no avail. BOPs are very complicated, very expensive pieces of machinery (we found one for sale online for $7.3 million—used.) While a hearing last month determined that the BOP for the Deepwater Horizon had been "modified in unexpected ways" by BP prior to the accident, that might not clear Cameron of its share of responsibility for the disaster. (Cameron is named as a defendant in the shareholder suit filed on May 7 against BP, alleging in part that the BOP "failed to function properly.")
  Amid all this, Cameron corporate has been utterly silent on the issue. The press-release section of its Web site contains only three releases for all of 2010—one dealing with the award of a contract from Chevron and two announcing (you guessed it) quarterly earnings.

—Posted by Robert Klara

BP's man-on-the-street ad testimonials suddenly covered in oil

Posted on Mon Jun 7 2010

In his most recent Real Time broadcast on HBO, Bill Maher questioned the 20 percent or so of the American public who, according to polls, think BP is doing a good job with its oil drilling. Maher wondered what BP would have to do to change those people's opinion and suggested the company go door to door spraying them with oil. According to this video from Second City, even that wouldn't do much. This is basically a spoof of a pre-spill BP commercial, except the people on the street who offer testimonials about alternative energy happen to be dripping with oil (and in one case having crude dumped on his head). As many including Brandweek have noted, it will be all but impossible to take "Beyond Petroleum" seriously again after this latest environmental disaster. Unless BP has a junk shot up its sleeve, that is.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Does BP's strategy of non-apology for the oil spill make sense?

Posted on Mon May 3 2010

As students of contemporary advertising know, BP not only stands for British Petroleum but also for "Beyond Petroleum." But in the wake of the worst oil spill in U.S. history, it seems the company is also beyond apologizing as well. A visit to the beleaguered company's Web site reveals that the PR emphasis is on the cleanup rather than the picayune details about who exactly caused the spill. "Over 2,500 personnel are now involved in the response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico," reads the Web site's lead item. There's also a quote from CEO Tony Hayward: "BP is fully committed to taking all possible steps to contain the spread of the oil spill." Note that Hayward doesn't offer an apology. That's because his position seems to be that BP isn't totally at fault. "It wasn't our accident," Hayward told Meredith Viera on the Today show, "but we are absolutely responsible for the oil and committed to cleaning it up." Hayward points the finger at Transocean, an offshore driller with whom BP had contracted. "It was their rig and their equipment that failed," he said. This is a dubious PR strategy. First, if you contract with someone, you are responsible for their actions. Second, no one knows who Transocean is. Third, trying to get off on a technicality makes BP look, well, oily. By the way, Transocean isn't apologizing, either. Its Web site describes the incident in the weasely passive voice: "On April 21, a fire and explosion occurred onboard our semisubmersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

The world would be just peachy if we all started using propane

Posted on Tue Aug 18 2009

The solution to our dwindling oil supply isn't solar energy. Nor is it wind or even diesel fuel. The answer is propane. Yes, the Propane Education & Research Council claims that unlike other alternative energies (many still in development), propane can immediately help cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. The council launches a TV campaign today, via Colle+McVoy, to educate consumers, lawmakers and policy advocates about this miracle fuel. The "Do more" campaign points interested folks to for more about propane, which does so much more than help grill tasty hamburgers and steaks. It can also heat water, power school buses and warm homes. While this seems like a nifty solution, as we obviously need to get away from our dependence on oil, it brings me back to the days of kerosene heaters. (What the hell were we thinking placing scalding hot metal heaters in our homes that released black, acrid plumes after they were extinguished?) Of course, the propane advocates aren't suggesting putting these throwback-type heaters in the home. Instead, they are promoting the idea of running your lawnmower with propane and heating water for a bath with it in its Time and Newsweek print ads. Still, I'm sure most parents would cringe at the idea of putting their children on a propane-powered school bus.

—Posted Kenneth Hein



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