As BP continues to struggle to stop the flow of oil gushing into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, its corporate brand image is sinking as rapidly as the destroyed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that started this catastrophe.
The once ingenious branding campaign of Beyond Petroleum has disintegrated into “Beyond Belief” as the company continues to try to spin its message of “it’s not all our fault.”
From Day One BP’s strategy has appeared to focus more on preventing legal and financial responsibility for this ecological and human tragedy than on controlling the real damage being done to the environment and the many industries and businesses being impacted.
Watching a BP senior executive point the finger at the company’s subcontractors during a U.S. Congressional hearing did nothing to enhance trust in the BP brand (or its leadership). Neither did early reports that soon after this disaster BP was offering US$5000 payments to residents affected by the oil spill if they waived their rights to sue for any damages.
Here’s a company with record profits that seems unwilling to assume responsibility and throw all available resources into stopping the oil flow and cleaning up the damage done. Someone needs to tell BP how Johnson & Johnson reacted years ago when some idiot was putting cyanide into Tylenol tablets.
As Ian Berry points out in his So What’s Next? blog: “BP’s story now looks like spin and their reputation is in tatters.”
Interestingly, that same “it’s not our fault, the employees did something wrong” was given by the BP CEO after their refinery near Houston exploded in 2005 and killed 15 workers.
BP’s initial estimates of just 5000 barrels per day of leakage looks like a giant company spin statement now that more reliable sources are estimating the problem to be in the 90,000 to 120,000 barrels of oil per day range. This gap in the official BP line and what others are estimating is simply Beyond Belief.
A brand is a trust mark.
Is there any trust left in the BP brand?
I find it Beyond Belief to believe so.