Introduction In July of 2003, BP ( once British Petroleum ) adopted the tagline “ Beyond Petroleum ” , in an attempt to rebrand itself as a socially responsible, environmentally friendly company. This “ fresh reassuring, and hopeful ” strategic trade name placement was effectual in doing BP a systematically highly-ranked trade name in the heads of consumers throughout the first decennary of this century ( Heaton, 2010 ) . However, in visible radiation of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill BP ‘s environmental and corporate societal duty record has been held under intense examination, uncovering a company that does non look to keep its individuality and actions in close alliance with its selling run. This paper seeks to analyse the genuineness of BP ‘s “ beyond crude oil ” run and particularly its branding response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including its usage of societal media as a new tool for making disillusioned clients and stakeholders.
A Fresh Start for the New BP BP ‘s “ beyond crude oil ” run began in July of 2000 as a scheme to place the BP trade name as a leader in cleaner crude oil and renewable energy. Its acquisition of Solarex ( as portion of its Amoco purchase ) in 1999 gave BP Solar the distinguished award of being the largest manufacturer of solar panels at the clip, bring forthing 30 megawatts of solar merchandises per twelvemonth ( BP, 1999 ) . Kotler ( 2009 ) studies that after this rebranding, employees of BP felt the company was traveling in the right way and had a positive image of the new trade name. The run was rather successful, harmonizing to the Center for Brand Analysis, conveying it ‘s superior among other planetary “ Superbrands ” to figure nine in 2009 and 23 in the beginning of 2010.
Figure 1 besides shows BP deriving trade name power after the acceptance of the tagline, top outing in 2008, so dropping somewhat in 2009 in conformity with diminishing advertisement outgos ( from $ 75 million in 2007, $ 53.5 million in 2008, to $ 32.8 million in 2009 ) , every bit good as worsening industry mean trade name equity tendencies ( $ 13 billion in 2008 to $ 7.4 billion in 2009, or a 43 % bead ) , ( Branding Strategy Insider, 2010 ) . However, harmonizing to the same research, BP ‘s trade name equity decreased less dramatically ( from $ 19.9 billion in 2008 to $ 14.3 billion in 2009, or a 28 % bead ) , proposing that its trade name value may hold acted as a buffer during this period. Figure 1. Beginning: Branding Strategy Insider ( 2010 ) Justin Bean, Presidio Graduate School SUS6060-S1
From an external and internal stigmatization point of position, this run would look to be a singular success ; nevertheless, it does n’t look to match with BP ‘s record. BP has been criticized repeatedly for environmental misdemeanors, oil and propane gas monetary value use, safety misdemeanors, distorting review studies, risky substance dumping, and its engagement in environmentally-damaging patterns such as pull outing oil from Canadian oil littorals ( Wikipedia, 2010 ) . Ninety-seven per centum of crying wilful safety misdemeanors, ( which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines as: “ committed with apparent indifference to or knowing neglect for employee safety and wellness. ” ) in the refinery industry were attributed to two of BP ‘s refineries ( Texas City and Toledo, Figure 2. Beginning: Center for Public Integrity, ( 2010 ) . Ohio ) , many of which had been cited before in assorted countries of the works and went uncorrected, taking OSHA to the decision that “ BP has a serious, systemic safety job in their company. ”
This neglect led to an detonation at the Texas City works in 2005 which killed 15 people and injured 170 others, every bit good as a chemical leak in 2010 ( two hebdomads before the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill ) that released 530,000 lbs of carcinogenic, toxicant, or unsafe chemicals into the air of Texas City ( CPI, 2010 ) . Despite its successful trade name placement and scheme, BP was non presenting on the promise of its trade name internally. Even in the renewable energy sector it merely dedicated 4 % of its exploratory budget to some signifier of renewable energy, a significant sum and a move in the right way, but non plenty to measure up the full company as being beyond crude oil ( Goodman 2010 ) . In its Second Quarter Results for 2010, BP reports that recordable hurt frequence, unity direction major accidents, every bit good as loss of primary containment incidents have all decreased since 2000, 2004, and 2008, severally, and harmonizing to the same study, hurt frequence has been diminishing over the declared period for the industry as a whole every bit good ( BP, 2010 ) .
In malice of these attempts, BP ‘s overall operations still focused on bring forthing oil, a major subscriber to climate alteration and human wellness dangers globally, and did so in a manner that put stakeholders ( including stockholders ) at considerable hazard of injury or loss. Trouble on the Horizon On the dark of April 20th, 2010, unnatural force per unit area inside a marine riser on the Deepwater Horizon boring rig ( owned by Transocean Ltd. , runing on a BP-owned well ) caused an detonation on the platform, killing 11 workers and wounding 17 others. The resulting oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, one of the US ‘s most economically productive and biologically diverse organic structures of H2O, released every bit much as 185 million gallons of petroleum oil ( for comparing the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill released 11 million gallons ) , the largest inadvertent Marine oil spill in the history of the oil industry ( NYT, 2010 ) . BP ‘s safety record and processs came under intense examination, and public indignation built as more was revealed about its Justin Bean, Presidio Graduate School SUS6060-S1
neglect for worker and environmental safety. Boycotts of BP gas Stationss, protests in forepart of the London BP central offices, and 24-hour intelligence coverage of the spill ( flourishing the name “ BP Oil Spill ” ) helped to degrade trust and belief in the trade name image, every bit good as taking to a 52 % bead in stock value ( the lowest since 1996 ) , net quarterly loss of $ 16.97 billion, $ 2.9 billion in clean-up costs up to June 30th, 2010, and entire costs of the spill for BP anticipated at $ 32.2 billion, approximately the same sum as the full nominal GDP of Kenya ( BP, 2010 ; IMF, 2009 ) . The Crisis Response BP ‘s initial reaction to the spill was to understate the harm, gauging that merely 1,000 barrels per twenty-four hours of oil were sloping into the Gulf, and subsequently stating “ someplace between 1,000 and 5,000 ” after a separate 5,000-barrel-per-day leak was discovered ( Slate, 2010 ) . This had the consequence of damaging their credibleness and trust early on, go forthing the public skeptical of future statements. Then CEO Tony Hayward besides made a series of unfortunate contradictions and faux pas ( presented in table 1 ) , doing the company ‘s motivations appear to be doubtful, insincere, and out of touch.
Hayward besides ab initio shifted incrimination to Transocean Ltd. , but said they would give full support to the clean-up attempt. This was perceived as an turning away of duty on BP ‘s portion, farther degrading the public trust in its communications ( Slate, 2010 ) . Hayward subsequently resigned and was replaced by the executive in charge of the Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, Bob Dudley, in October of 2010. Attempts to understate the badness of the spill, cover merely the positive developments in the clean-up, or over-sympathize with the victims were seen as patronizing, met with public indignation, charges of greenwashing, and reduplication of past defects ( Greenpeace, 2010 ) . Tony Hayward and BP Notable Gaffs “ We ‘re regretful for the monolithic break it ‘s caused to their lives. … There ‘s no 1 who wants this thing over more than I do. I ‘d wish my life back. ” – May 31st, to newsmans during the wake of the deathly detonation. “ What the snake pit did we make to merit this? ” – After 760 safety misdemeanors in 3 old ages and buttonholing for less restrictive safety ordinances. “ aˆ¦whether it was nutrient toxic condition or some other ground for them being sick, you know, there ‘s a — nutrient toxic condition is certainly a large issue when you ‘ve got a concentration of this figure of people in impermanent cantonments, impermanent adjustments. … You know, ground forcess march on their tummy. ”
– Talking about the hospitalization of seven clean-up workers who experienced sickness, concerns, nose bleeds, giddiness and thorax strivings, physicians surmised that they might hold had negative reactions to the toxic dispersant BP used to interrupt up the oil spill. “ The Gulf of Mexico is a really large ocean. The sum of volume of oil and dispersant we are seting into it is bantam in relation to the entire H2O volumeaˆ¦ I think the environmental impact of this catastrophe is likely to hold been really, really modest “ – May 28th, after scientists determined the desolation to be “ ruinous ” . “ I hear remarks sometimes that big oil companies are avaricious companies or do n’t care, but that is non the instance with BP. We care about the little people. ” – June 16th, Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, showing his concern for the Gulf occupants. Table 1. Beginning: Daily Finance ( 2010 ) . Justin Bean, Presidio Graduate School SUS6060-S1
Subsequently BP pledged $ 500 million over a 10-year period to the Gulf Research Institute to research and measure the environmental impact the spill had on the Gulf, provided grants numbering $ 170 million to the provinces of Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama in an effort to relieve the impact of the spill on the provinces ‘ economic systems, established a charitable fund of $ 100 million for unemployed oil rig workers, donated $ 15 million for behavioural wellness outreach and support plans in Louisiana, set up a new Safety and Operational Risk Unit which would hold the authorization to step in on any proficient activity, and vowed to pay all “ legitimate ” claims for amendss ensuing from the oil spill ( BP, 2010 ) . These actions were a measure in the right way to reconstruct its already decimated trade name value, but BP needed a manner to accommodate the demand to distribute word of their attempts with the demand to avoid the visual aspect of greenwashing. During the Exxon Valdez oil spill which, until 2010, was the largest spill in American Waterss, Exxon likewise tried to understate the harm, pledged to pay for all of the clean-up costs, and compensate stakeholders for the harm.
However, over clip it failed to present on this promise, was embroiled in judicial proceeding for some clip after the spill, and appealed several determinations in order to pay lower amendss and distance itself lawfully from the negligent behavior of the Valdez ‘s allegedly drunk captain ( who was acquitted of the charge at test ) . BP and Exxon both shifted incrimination to other parties, vowed to pay more than they in private admitted to meaning to pay, failed to admit the uncertainness in the state of affairs, and focused on technological solutions early on, as opposed to turn toing the human crises ( Washington Post, 2008 ; NYT, 2010 ) . Despite the passing of over two decennaries, the name Exxon is still synonymous with the Valdez oil spill, a destiny which BP ‘s trade name would make best to avoid. But BP is in a different universe of media than Exxon found itself in, with all the chances and troubles that go along with it. Social Media Campaign It took seven yearss after the oil spill for BP to direct out a tweet about its place or attempts to command the spill, apparently another error on their portion in the early yearss of the crisis.
The common perceptual experience was that BP did n’t value its stakeholders plenty to pass on with them. It besides did n’t assist BP look to be technologically advanced or in touch with modern societal media communicating manners. However, after its first tweet on April 27th, BP became really proactive with its societal media presence, twirping a twelve or more times per twenty-four hours, twirping crisis hotline Numberss for wildlife and voluntaries, every bit good as articles and updates on the province of the Gulf. This attempt, along with its long hold before utilizing Twitter, drew fire from a BP chirrup lampoon ( BPGlobalPR ) that tweeted humourous and sarcastic updates, which had over 188,000 followings, compared to BP ‘s 18,000. BP demanded that Twitter implement its lampoon regulations Figure 3. Beginning: Twitter.com Justin Bean, Presidio Graduate School SUS6060-S1
and have the tweeter province that it was, in fact, joking ( NYT, 2010 ) . It besides updates its Facebook profile daily with inside informations of oil recovered for that twenty-four hours and entire oil recovered therefore far. The Facebook page allows fans to notice about anything they want, non baning unfavorable judgment or abuses, doing it look more crystalline and efficaciously easing a public discharge session. In add-on BP ‘s YouTube channel has messages about the clean-up attempts, executives and workers talking about the spill, while their Flickr photostream shows exposures of the killing, community outreach, oil-soaked wildlife, and controversial altered images alongside the masters, following to a statement to show the extent to which the exposures were altered. BP besides paid for hunt consequences on Google to convey up BP ‘s spill response site nexus on top, above environmental group listings, guaranting it maintain visibleness during the crisis.
While the initial societal media response was by and large deemed slow and desiring for item, BP ‘s later aggressive focal point on societal media, while having a assorted bag of responses, has been perceived as a good attempt to reconstruct its trade name, giving BP a more human face than when utilizing traditional PR tactics or understating the crisis ( Slate, 2010 ) . While a steady bombardment of studies and positive intelligence from the company itself could be perceived as propaganda, in times of crisis there is no such thing as pass oning excessively much. BP overall has done a comparatively good occupation via societal media of looking to be crystalline, supplying elaborate information about the clean-up attempts and updating the populace on its attempts, go throughing along studies of the Gulf ‘s recovery, and doing available contact information for members of the societal media web to assist in the attempts to salvage wildlife and recruit voluntaries.
Much of the unfavorable judgment of the societal media methods being implemented by BP revolves around non utilizing bipartisan communicating, non affecting itself and its stakeholders in a conversation, but instead merely airing messages and supplying updates ( Mitch, 2010 ) . Because BP is new at such intensive usage of societal media, it may non hold yet figured out how to really prosecute the populace without making liability issues or making more of the awful gaffs that helped to speed up the ruin of the BP trade name at the beginning of the crisis. Beyond the Horizon BP ‘s stigmatization was ab initio a success narrative, going one of the most powerful planetary trade names ; deriving a positive repute, and the regard of its clients based on a sustainable societal and environmental message.
However, it became evident after the BP Gulf Oil Spill that the company ‘s operations and direction civilization did non aline its individuality with this sustainable scheme. The cardinal inquiry BP should hold asked itself before sharply branding the company as traveling “ beyond crude oil ” , every bit good as during the undermentioned decennary is “ can we and are we presenting on this promise? ” Great, enduring trade names are earned ; built by systematically presenting on trade name promises and internalising the trade name doctrine ( Kotler, p. 262, 2009 ) . BP had a opportunity to leverage the good will within its company when employees praised it for traveling in the way of “ beyond crude oil ” , nevertheless, given its safety and environmental record, and comparatively little renewable energy profile, it failed to put an docket to change by reversal these tendencies, or internalise the spirit of the tagline into its operations and direction. Justin Bean, Presidio Graduate School SUS6060-S1
An indispensable unfavorable judgment of the beyond crude oil run is that BP is, at bosom, an oil company. Oil ingestion, while demanded in tremendous measures by consumers, is a taking cause of many environmental and human wellness issues globally. Even if BP had adhered to or exceeded safety and environmental ordinances, would it of all time have been able to present on promises of traveling “ beyond crude oil ” ? The truth is that crude oil made up 93 % of BP ‘s investings in 2008, and although puting in the other 7 % in renewables Figure 4. Beginning: Greenpeace ( 2010 ) . ( 2.79 % air current, 1.39 % solar, and 2.79 % biofuels ) is a good attempt for an oil company, it far from delivers on the claim of being beyond or traveling beyond crude oil as a primary beginning of income or focal point of investings ( Greenpeace, 2010 ) .
This really cardinal contradiction may hold been forgiven and a resevoir of of good will created if BP had a unflawed safety record, personable executives who did n’t accidentally insult stakeholders, and more progressive environmental criterions. But the nature of making concern in huge volumes with a polluting, poisonus substance that the populace has seen cause legion environmental catastrophes is one of immense hazard to external and internal stakeholders. This hazard can non be mitigated by a better logo design, bright, catchy commercials, or a dynamic societal media run. The trade name may be able to retrieve in clip and may even recover the trust of clients, but this trust will be misplaced and delicate until BP can really aline its operations, direction, and internal doctrine with the trade name promise and ends. In short, a company that implements the trade name promise of “ beyond crude oil ” must be able to make and demo that it ‘s making merely that: traveling beyond crude oil. Justin Bean, Presidio Graduate School SUS6060-S1
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