BP’s Aggressive PR Plan Revealed, Piss Everyone Off

As Gulf oil spill disaster is not bad enough, now BP boss Tony Hayward tells the world to piss off.  BP’s new “offensive PR” plan must be to deal from a position of strength, eh? Watching BP stumble and fumble around would be comedic except for their incompetence. “A drop in the ocean” Hayward says. Read on for an alternative reality.

Update: A conversation with Marketplace Senior Business Correspondent Bob Moon reveals BP’s apparent acquiescence to their lawyers. See American Public Media radio report below.

In news from the corners of the world where people give a damn, BP’s estimates of 5,000 barrels of oil puking from their money hole are apparently “a drop in the ocean” compared with more realistic numbers – something like 70,000 barrels a day.

Exxon Valdez spilled roughly 250,000 barrels of crude off Prince William Sound in 1989. What does the math tell you if the Purdue numbers are correct? What is BP cannot stop the leak any better than shutting their pie hole?

The drop in the ocean gets worse

Mississippi River current meets BP’s “drop in the ocean”

On Monday it was discovered BP hired PR giant Brunswick to help deal with the public relations end of this mess, and now we see what they termed “aggressive PR” means.  It looks like BP and Brunswick are about to claim the stupidity defense. Or perhaps the arrogance one.

Brunswick's Parker looks hurt over beachU.S. Representative Edward Markey suggests that original estimates on this leak may be way off. Originally, Energy Secretary Steven Chu relied upon estimates provided by NOAA and BP to determine how much oil is contaminating the Gulf, but National Public Radio has reported on a Purdue University independent study that suggests 14 times that amount.

The disaster in pictures from Boston.com also negates the US Coast Guard’s suggesting there is no immediate danger to the Gulf coast. Let’s just hope when all is said and done, people remember whose faces to put egg on.

Maybe Hayward’s remarks are no worse than Brunswick Group CEO Alan Parker’s (upper left, in defensive posture on the beach) on their website? In a note for the second edition of the Brunswick Review Parker speaks Big Chief talk describing that firm’s “digital media” strategy:

But social media is so new for most companies that it can be hard to hire enough digital natives to stay abreast of the digital revolution, let alone get ahead of it.

Well, if BP’s and Brunswick’s rhetoric and “war path” (aggressive in native social media speak) strategies are to work, they had better get busy employing more braves for their “chiefs” to order around – lest the whole “tribe” of digital injuns pee pee’s on their parade.

Digital natives? Was BP around when the buffalo disappeared? I can hear Hayward now; “There are plenty more animals out there.” BP’s efforts so far spell failure at every turn.

Dolphins under oil everything-pr

Dolphins under oil. Do they enjoy sucking crude when they breathe?

Oil spill images courtesy Boston.com


  1. george carvill's shiny head says

    ive never seen this suggested, but why doesn’t the attorney general go over BP’s lease agreements and find a breach of their lease agreement, quickly negotiate a new agreement with another oil company (yes a new deal with a different devil) which allows them (therefore incentivizing) to do the cleanup and bill bp to remediate any and all damage and send the bill to bp…therefore profit motive is out and we cant question bp’s cleanup efforts as penny pinching and only self serving in their pr and their actions (dispersing so we cant see the oil on the surface that woulda looked worse than the oil gushing out the pipe), we can be sure the new company is free to spend as much money to fix stuff as quickly as possible, and in turn that company gets a slight break or some kind of write off on their new lease once it’s ready to be re-drilled…(if any company would actually wanna touch this area at all…that’d be a new pr nightmare in itself with the public outcry)

  2. says

    It appears that the Brunswick Group after innumerable failed attempts at trying to save BP’s reputation in the States has in abject desperation persuaded the UK Sun Newspaper to call on the British public to rise up against American imperialism and save BP as the headline reads – “It might be unpopular…but BP’s survival is crucial to all of us [British].”

    The article reads:

    “…It paid out a mammoth £6.6BILLION in shareholder dividends last year.

    “That accounted for £1 in every £7 paid by Britain’s biggest 100 firms into the nation’s pension funds and saving plans.

    “BP trousered £40MILLION A DAY in profit over the first three months of the year. But of its haul of almost £9billion in 2009, £2billion went to the cash-starved UK Treasury.” Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/money/2976719/Steve-Hawkes-on-why-BP-are-so-important-to-Britain.html#ixzz0oGlcfZ3n

    Brunswick’s problem is that they work in a country a little larger than the state of Oregon with 60+ million people stuffed into it and craft Tony Hayward’s sound bites for the British public, not the American public. Consequently, Hayward manages to alienate even more Americans every time he opens his mouth.

    There are cultural dynamics and nuances between the US and UK populations seemingly unrecognised by the Brunswick “PR powerhouse.’ Hayward’s authoritative approach (talking down to people) may have great deal of psychological impact in the UK on swaying public opinion, but in the States, he comes across as an condescending, arrogant British jerk.

    Having lived in the UK for the past ten years, I can assure you the of the PR BS that flies in the UK is basically an insult to Americans and visa versa.

    Brunswick might be good at hustling government agencies, but they are abysmal at actual mass public relations as witnessed by their failed efforts to salvage BP reputation in the US. In fact, they have counter-productively done more to damage it than anything else.

    If Brunswick did ‘craft’ the Sun article calling on the British people to rise up and protect BP from the ‘litigiousness Yankees,’ it will most likely blow up in their face and cause BP irreparable damage, not only in the US, but worldwide.

    An old Bernay’s school PR guy I worked with once told me, “Never get to believing your own BS, especially what you put out about yourself.” Could that be Brunswick’s terminal problem, and in the end, BP’s reputation will be finished by Brunswick’s very own PR petard?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *