Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Advertising can't fix everything

BP has an image problem.

Though it stems from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, the lives lost, and the thousands of barrels of oil that are pouring into the gulf every day, the real cause is their own incompetence.

BP has mismanaged this from the very beginning.

They waited too long to take responsibility for the mess, initially trying to shift blame to suppliers. Their people spoke extemporaneously issuing such gems as "I want my life back" and "Louisiana isn't the only place that has shrimp."

And now they've created a series of print ads and TV spots like this one, to tell everyone how sorry they are and how hard they're working.

Too late.

This is all just so much spin. You can feel the PR pros all over it. It's disingenuous and insulting to the people who have been irreparably harmed by this crisis.

The only thing BP can do now is shut up and fix the problem.

No TV spots. No print ads. No photo ops. No talk show appearances.

Stop the oil flow, clean the water, restore the beaches, pay people for the harm they've endured due to your negligence. If BP does the right thing, the stories will get out and they can slowly earn a reputation as a responsible company.

But if BP continues dragging its feet and doing just enough to "demonstrate" their concern, they will fail.


  1. Your point is accurate and articulated well.

    I'd offer the same perspective has identical application for the government.

  2. Matthew MisslichJune 8, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Very, very good blog. Been thinking the same thing myself once I saw that AD. Funny story: was watching CNN, they were covering the fact that BP ran this AD and were debating it. They went to commercial, first commercial...the BP AD! Ironic. Again, great blog. Hope things are well!

  3. From a communications point of view, BP made the ultimate mistake. As a company (brand) they made a promise and haven't kept it. They have broken the trust. Remember the old adage: nothing hurts a bad product more than good advertising. We all want to believe BP, but they can't seem to keep their promises. Bad branding all around.