Friday, June 4, 2010

Real Slick, BP

Well, there’s at least a little bit of good news out of the Gulf of Mexico: Crews have cut the ruptured pipe and capped it.

Nevertheless, oil is likely to continue leaking throughout the summer, so the disaster is far from over.

That’s why BP’s new ads, featuring contrite messages from CEO Tony Hayward, are kind of beside the point, even if they’re the right communications approach for the company to take.

Until BP gets some real results by stopping the leak and cleaning it up, whatever words the company offers won’t hold much water. Not after trying for weeks to deflect responsibility for the leak. Not while still trying to suppress media coverage of the spill. And certainly not after trying for years to position itself as a nicer, greener petroleum company.

From the start, many were skeptical of the “Beyond Petroleum” campaign. And it turns out BP indeed was playing fast and loose with its promises. So much for living a well-grounded brand position.

Is BP doing the right thing, or is it just doing damage control now that a criminal investigation has been launched and its stock has lost a third of its value?

As the oil keeps flowing and coming ashore, the public is likely to perceive BP’s new supposedly forthright messaging as an attempt to clean up its brand—not the Gulf.

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