It is a fool’s prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak.
No doubt you have been following the BP/TransAmerica/Haliburton oil leak as it continues unabated in the Gulf. We have often heard the term ‘oil spill’ in the media, but this is NOT an oil spill. It is a leak (at best). Spills come from a finite and visible container and involve a finite amount of materials escaping that container (the drunken crash of the Exxon Valdez was a spill). The preventable disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a leak: the oil, methane, and unrefined gas will continue to leak for an indeterminable time and at what remains an indeterminable rate. And in the 44 days since its explosion, we easily forget that eleven rig workers were killed in the initial explosion, despite of a dangerous buildup of volatile methane in the pipes.
If you enjoy some black humor in the face of this catastrophe (and perhaps want to make a donation to help Gulf communities deal with the long-term problems they will face but BP likely will not), check out the Twitter account of ‘@BPGlobalPR.’ Like all good satire (albeit satire reduced to 140 characters a shot), one hesitates before deciding whether to laugh or cry when reading the disarming truth:
We are very upset that Operation: Top Kill has failed. We are running out of cool names for these things.
What a gorgeous day! The ocean is filled with the most beautiful rainbows! #yourewelcome #bpcares
This horrible spill wouldn’t be happening in the gulf of AMERICA! Arizona knows what I’m talking ’bout!! #fistpound #bpcares
Of course, bp cares about the fishing industry as well. Now, all tuna from the gulf coast comes pre-packaged in oil. #you’rewelcome #yum
Here’s the thing: we made $45 million A DAY in profits in 2009. This really isn’t a big deal.
Such gems have been showing up in followers Twitter accounts for a few weeks now. Just yesterday, the person(a) behind the account, Leroy Stick, offered his ‘BP Cares’ T-shirts). But WHY has he taken on the role of BP’s faux-PR guru, and why has this particular satire gone viral? Mr. Stick’s answer has some keen insight into the workings of public relations, and how ‘public’ can play an unintended role (Warning: adult language will be found in the quote):to his ‘Dearest Media’ that explained his name, his motives, and how he hoped to offer something back to the Gulf communities who will suffer most and longest from this tragedy. As of the press release, @BPGlobalPR/Leroy Stick claimed over 100,000 Twitter followers and that his efforts had raised its first $10,000 to give to clean up efforts (mostly through the selling of
Why has this caught on? I think it’s because people can smell the bullshit and sometimes laughing at it feels better than getting angry or depressed over it. At the very least, it’s a welcome break from that routine. The reason @BPGlobalPR continues to grow is because BP continues to spew their bullshit.
I’ve read a bunch of articles and blogs about this whole situation by publicists and marketing folk wondering what BP should do to save their brand from @BPGlobalPR. First of all, who cares? Second of all, what kind of business are you in? I’m trashing a company that is literally trashing the ocean, and these idiots are trying to figure out how to protect that company? Do you want to know what their PR strategy should be? They should fire everyone in their joke of a PR department, starting with all-star Anne Womack-Kolto and focus on actually fixing the problems at hand. Honestly, Cheney’s publicist? That’s too easy.
Yes, Dick Cheney‘s publicist. And we all know how Cheney is loved in the media and in our hearts.
The arrival of Dick’s publicist at BP is not merely some serendipitous bit of gallows humor. Lest we forget, Halliburton, the company run by Dick, was responsible for the building and cementing of the drill head and the platform, though they are not responsible for the breakdown of their work – at leasta few weeks ago. Well, at least we got THAT cleared up. Thanks guys.
The whole viral campaign of @BPGlobalPR also points out the fragile existence branding can have, especially once its out in the public, where public opinion can outrun the stratagems of a PR department:
So what is the point of all this? The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND. You don’t own it because it is literally nothing. You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it? You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand? Have a respectable brand. Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions. Lead the pack! Evolve!
The “human tragedy” of the Gulf oil spill continues unabated and each effort to cap it ends up adding to the misery. Soon, BP surely will to argue that it really can not afford to pay for the civil cases that are already making their way to courts in states across the Gulf. A bit later, the oil plumes will start to create huge dead zones that will deplete seafood reserves and curtail fishing enterprises. And from there, who knows how long the effects will be with us? But as Leroy Stick rightly brags, “We’ve created something that will affect your children’s children. Can YOU say the same about YOUR life? #nailedit #bpcares”