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Can BP Recover?


BP’s CEO is on a PR blitz this week, trying to salvage the company’s “Beyond Petroleum” green reputation. CEO Tony Hayward states that BP takes full responsibility for the clean up, but not the spill. Cable TV pundits are unfairly critical of his position, which is a legal position and most likely will be settled in court between BP and its contractor. As far as clean up – which is the priority here – BP appears to be taking 100 percent of that responsibility.

“We are taking full responsibility for the spill and we will clean it up, and where people can present legitimate claims for damages we will honor them. We are going to be very, very aggressive in all of that,” Tony Hayward told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

Cleaning up BP’s brand image is another matter. From a marketing perspective, the oil spill calls into question the “greening” of an oil company.  The public consistently hears the “Beyond Petroleum” advertising and messages, yet where are the actual business success stories, or the stories of successful alternative fuel foundations that will take ‘beyond petroleum’ from slogan to tactic.

Branding professional Lisa Merriam, quoted in Marketing Daily, agrees. “The much-admired green sun BP brand died this week,” she tells us. “This is a brand that never left the marketing department. No matter what they said the company stood for, they never lived it. Despite all those smug ads about wind farms and being ‘Beyond Petroleum,’ this shows they are just like any other oil company — their green brand is as dead as all of the wildlife washing up on Louisiana shores.”

When will the spill be contained? How will the Gulf’s ecosystem be rescued and restored? What will be done about compensating the commercial fishing industry? How will BP move forward in the future?  What is (or was) BP’s final definition of “responsibility” and does that equate with the public’s definition? Will BP be committed to transparency throughout this process? Will BP and the industry work with the government to review and update safety guidelines and crisis planning?

The answers to these questions will ultimately determine BP’s corporate reputation – and that will take time.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joanaroo permalink
    06/03/2010 8:06 pm

    Will BP recover? Only if the top minds who helped cause this are jailed, all assets and profits are sealed for use in what will likely be decades long cleanup and recover, someone honest and worthy of being called a human takes over the corporation, and if Tony Hayward is put in front of a firing squad!

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