BP North America is expected to spend about half a billion dollars over the next few years trying to change its name from “mud;” or perhaps, in this case, “tar balls.”
The company faced a public relations nightmare with the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe two years ago, which decimated the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal areas. Despite being only one company in a group including Transocean , Cameron International and Halliburton , BP compounded the already bad situation was the fact that BP had branded itself with the tag “Beyond Petroleum” since 2000, essentially claiming that it was an environmentally conscious company (“BP,” of course, actually stands for “British Petroleum”). The marketing campaign was actually very successful, and actually too successful for its own good, since the Gulf disaster and the revelations that came out about BP’s priorities in the preceding years and in the aftermath made the tag line appear to be the ultimate in disingenuousness.
“BP seems to have forgotten the number-one rule in marketing and management: walk the talk,” stated Gardiner Morse at HBR, “BP is a victim of a disingenuous ad campaign that worked too well, and you have to wonder if its reputation will ever fully recover.”
In the new marketing push, BP will no longer be parlaying itself as environmentally conscious, but efficient and cost-effective for consumers of its retail locations. The company will be rolling out a customer loyalty program and will be centering a great deal of attention on BP Invigorate, a gasoline product that BP claims will clean your engine as you drive, thus saving money in the long run.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether all the money in the world, let alone $500 million, will ultimately be enough to restore BP’s brand. With that said, consumers have long shown a willingness to purchase products regardless of their origin (the so-called “sweatshop” dissonance), so if BP is to recover, they’re likely pushing their money in the right direction.
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