Posts Tagged ‘Oil Spill’

BP’s Lame Propaganda Machine

July 1, 2010

The other day, Stephen Colbert ripped into BP’s spin-doctoring regarding their oil spill.  In his typically hilarious yet brilliantly insightful way, Colbert called out BP’s BS when they say things like — and I’m paraphrasing here — golly gee, our unprecedented, catastrophic error is creating jobs by filling local hotel rooms.  See, BP does care!

Like most of you, my stomach literally burns when I think about the destruction BP wrought, and I get especially furious at pictures of the poor, helpless animals flailing in the oil.

But what makes me even madder — if that’s even possible — is BP’s lame attempt to spin their way out of this with clever messaging and finding silver lining in this oil-drenched tragedy which is still ongoing.

How stupid do they think we are?  That’s not a rhetorical question folks — really folks, how friggin’ stupid do they think we are?

Their propaganda offensive is hurting themselves as well as my field.  They are essentially labeling communications professionals to a bunch of well-paid liars who spin stories, deflect blame and try to make chicken shit into chicken salad.

Luckily, we have geniuses like Stephen Colbert (and his writers, of course) to channel this raw fury into humorous yet dead-on observations about BP’s outrageous propaganda campaign.

And if you aren’t as brilliant as Colbert and his entire writing staff, maybe you can direct your energy in, erm, more creative ways, like this guy did.  I’m not even sure what to say about him.


Spirit Airlines — Doubling Down on The Stupid

June 23, 2010

Evidently Spirit Airlines has doubled-down on a really stupid idea.

For the uninitiated, Spirit Airlines is attempting to capitalize BP’s oil spill by running ads depicting the beaches they service as full of oil-soaked women, not crude oil gushing from deep beneath the earth’s surface.  Hardy har har.  One disgruntled person wrote to Spirit and got the following response:

Thanks for writing to Spirit Airlines, and for your feedback about our new marketing campaign.It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with this sale. We are merely addressing the false perception we have oil on the many beaches we service, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots.

Please accept my apology if you find this campaign offensive. It is certainly not our intent to offend our valued customers. We’ve actually received positive feedback from many who appreciate our efforts to stimulate travel to the state.

I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.

Again, thank you for your feedback. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

Shorter Spirit Airlines:  You’re not as funny or clever as we are, and that’s your fault!

If I may get on my soap box for a moment, I’d like you to highlight one point in this response:  “I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Oy vey.

Too often, as in this case, communications is not considered to be an integral part of a company’s business strategy, leading to disastrous results like this.  Leaving comms out of the decision-making process is a huge mistake, and yet it is so common.  A company that communicates well has everyone on board, and on the same page, from the very beginning so there would be no need to forward “your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Once more, Corporate America:  Communications decisions are ultimately business decisions and should be treated accordingly.

This ad campaign should have never been green-lighted.  Let’s hope cooler, saner heads prevail and this ad campaign gets squashed.  Sadly for Spirit Air, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

As a side note, the most commonly used word in their response is “Feedback”.  In fact, they use the word three times in five short paragraphs.  Don’t you think they should emphasize things such as “Concerns” and “Service” instead of something as dry and emotionless as “Feedback”?  Yeesh.

Using the Oil Catastrophe to Promote Vacations – Not a Good Idea

June 22, 2010

This blog post isn’t about BP directly.  Rather, it’s Spirit Airlines‘ attempt to capitalize on the ongoing oil spill by running ads saying, “Check Out the Oil on Our Beaches.”  Their message:  the only oil you will find on the beaches we fly to are on scantily-clad, sunbathing women.  They are calling this their “Best Protection” plan (emphasis definitely theirs) with a green and yellow-colored bottle of “SPF $50 off” lotion to directly capitalize off of BP’s huge, enormous, catastrophic error.

Not too subtle.  And not too smart either.

Let’s forget for a moment how deeply offensive, cynical and sexist this campaign is.  And let’s forget for the moment the immense harm done to the residents of the oil-soaked Gulf Coast and the wildlife – a catastrophe that still hasn’t even been slowed down much less solved, by the way.  And let’s forget that the entire food chain in the Gulf of Mexico, and possibly the entire world, could have been irrevocably harmed.  And let’s forget, again just for a moment, the people who lost their lives on the oil rig during the initial explosion.

This advertisement is a colossally stupid idea for one simple reason:  what if this leak, or heaven forbid a different one, ends up harming one of Spirit Airlines’ destinations?  What will they do then?  >Knock Knock< Hello, Spirit Airlines!  Anybody home?

Okay, now let’s get back to this cynical campaign, the decimated livelihoods, damaged food chains and the terrible loss of life.  I personally believe their brand will, and should, suffer for this callous, insensitive and offensive ad campaign.  Not all publicity is good publicity folks.

Boy, talk about stupid decisions.

BP — You’re Still Not Getting It

May 28, 2010

The other day BP announced they will change their name to British Petroleum and create a new logo, apparently in an effort to deal with the oil spill they caused.  It seems BP executives still don’t quite get it.

So let me reiterate, this time a bit louder:


Your problems cannot be fixed by hiring a strategic communication consulting firm (although I wouldn’t mind the business — hint hint) by creating a new logo or launching a feel-good marketing campaign.  Your problem, BP, is that you caused an environmental catastrophe, killed a bunch of innocent workers and are not communicating honestly with the public about the current situation.   And your response is to rename yourself.


Here’s some more unsolicited and free advice:  start acting like adults and deal with the problem you caused.  Show the world how deeply regret the loss of life with actions, not words.  Then spend hundreds of billions of dollars finding ways to fix the damage you caused.

You can deal with your oil-drenched brand later.

Was BP’s Brand Hijacked — Or Did They Bring This On Themselves?

May 26, 2010

My friend, Tony Chavira, recently sent me a link to a Twitter account called BP Global PR.  This satirical Twitter account features awesome Tweets such as ” Bonfire/Boat Party tonight in the gulf. No fatties, BYOB. #bpcares” and one of my favorites, “They want to fine us $4,300 for every barrel of oil spilled? Umm, we’re not spilling barrels, the oil is going directly into the gulf. DUH”

One could argue that BP’s brand has been unfairly hijacked by some anonymous Twitterer (Tweeter?) during a very serious time.  But it seems to me BP has done just fine hijacking their own brand, and the general public is so angry that we resort to satire to skewer them to the wall.

I don’t know who said this first, but branding expert Ben Bidlack defined a brand as a “promise” — something that your organization guarantees to its customers.  Tarnish your brand, and you are basically violating your core promise to the public.  (See:  Tiger Woods)

By cutting corners to save a few dollars here and there and not installing critical safety measures, BP has soaked it’s own brand in oil, the consequences of which will likely be catastrophic for the Earth’s eco-system for years, if not decades. So no, the humorous Tweeter is doing nothing wrong.

And BP, here’s some unsolicited advice from a communications professional:  spare the expense of hiring communication consulting firms, stop lying to us and fulfill your promise to us.  Stop with the spin, stop with the obfuscation and stop talking down to us.  You deserve everything you are getting right now, and even the bestestest branding company in the whole wide world can’t rescue British Petroleum.  Fix the problem as fast as possible, communicate honestly with us, take your lumps and move on. If you are too thin-skinned to take such criticisms, then shut your doors.   You won’t be missed.