April 20th (4/20) is a celebratory day for a certain subset of the population (if you know what I mean,) but 5 years ago, April 20th became the mark of a much more devastating event in environmental history. At exactly 10:50 p.m. EST on April 20, 2010, disaster struck in the Gulf of Mexico when a BP deepwater oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, and resulting in a staggering 87-day oil well gusher. Following the disaster, an immense and understandable backlash towards BP ensued from inhabitants of the states that the spill affected, as well as many across the country.
Now, 5 years later, BP’s quest for forgiveness continues in their latest PR and advertising spots. According to their site, BP has spent more than $28 Billion “to restore the Gulf economy and environment.” Additionally, BP suggests that its efforts were successful – “The Gulf Coast economy has rapidly rebounded, with numerous tourism records being broken every year since the spill. Extensive scientific data (…) show that the impact to the environment was of short duration and limited in geography…”
The video below is a shortened :30 of their latest national spot for this week’s 5-year anniversary.
Being in Marketing myself, I know fluff and instilled talking points when I see them. BP’s campaign to prove their successful aid in the resurgence of the Gulf is full of “we” and “our”, and lots of beautiful pictures a of seemingly recovered coast line. This latest spot, however, completely neglects to acknowledge the countless man-hours from the innumerable restoration volunteers, and points fingers at third-party studies that claim the Gulf is now back to its pre-spill state. But regardless of how dedicated BP says they are to the Gulf restoration, it’s ultimately up to the people to decide what to make of it all.
Does BP care about the Gulf and the effects (long-term or not) that it has had on the people affected, or are they just concerned about regaining the trust and money of partners and customers alike? It’s no argument that BP has had an incredible hurdle to overcome – but the question is, have they been successful in doing so?