BP Loses Its Green Coating

New York Times ran an article last week titled, “Green Logo, but BP Is Old Oil,” the theme of which is rather obvious, given BP’s recent problems in Alaska. The question is can one incident, or one well placed article, undue millions in annual advertising expenditures?
No, I don’t believe one article will do the trick, but several might. Guardian Unlimited ran a piece by George Monbiot last June on BP and Shell, debunking their green advertising messages as nothing more than well funded false advertising.

For a company that claims to have moved “beyond petroleum”, BP has managed to spill an awful lot of it on to the tundra in Alaska. Last week, after the news was leaked to journalists, it admitted to investors that it is facing criminal charges for allowing 270,000 gallons of crude oil to seep across one of the world’s most sensitive habitats. The incident was so serious that some of its staff could be sent to prison.
Had this been Exxon, the epitome of sneering corporate brutality, the news would have surprised no one. But BP’s rebranding, like Shell’s, has been so effective that you could be forgiven for believing that it had become an environmental pressure group. These companies have used the vast profits from their petroleum business to create the impression that they are abandoning it.

Monbiot goes on to say BP’s adverts give the impression that the company dispenses “pure carrot juice,” not petrol.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.