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