No ad campaign can clean-up BP's soiled image

BP continues to try to shine up its soiled reputation through the use of the media.

After the Gulf oil disaster, BP trotted out PR disaster teams, and almost immediately began running feel-good ads to tout their heroic efforts in cleaning up the Gulf. The "Voices of BP" campaign featured employees promising Americans that the company would restore the Gulf Coast and rectify damage to the environment caused by the oil spill.

Then, BP produced the "Voices of the Gulf," campaign which looked like a tourism ad for the Gulf, but ended with a big BP logo..

Those campaigns didn't work then, and their latest campaign isn't going to work now.

BP is running a new campaign providing updates on their efforts in the Gulf. The latest ad was produced by Purple Strategies, which worked in tandem with Ogilvy on the digital ads, and Ogilvy PR in Washington, which is working on a social-media campaign.

Ad Age reports that the latest messaging is timed to coincide with the shifting of BP's efforts from cleanup into an environmental-restoration and -research phase. In a statement, Geoff Morrell, BP America's VP-communications said: "We made a commitment not only to restore the Gulf but also to keep the American people informed of that effort. We've made significant strides over the past year and believe it's a good time to provide a progress report to the nation."

The problem with all of these campaigns is that they act as a reminder of the devastation BP unfurled on the Gulf, rather than working to improve BP's image. These ads would have worked 15, 20 or 30 years ago with a less activist nation, but consumers are in control today, and they don't buy the blatant white washing of a company's image. A company's brand reputation is established by its actions, rather than its words. The tourism ads should have run without the BP logo, and should the most recent campaign. BP needs to lay low for quite a few years, and come out again only when or if it changes its policies around deep water drilling in the Gulf.

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