BP, the huge oil company that, until recently, had been the textbook example of ‘going green’ now finds itself in a stickier, slimier image and reputation morass than some of the muck it dredges up from the underworld.
Yesterday, the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (now, there’s a name that tells you exactly what the organization’s charter is) announced that BP had "significant knowledge" years ago of the problems that caused the explosion at its Texas City, TX, refinery in 2005 that killed 15 workers.
That bombshell of a revelation comes on the heels of BP’s massive oil spill in Alaska and accusations that BP traders tried to corner the propane market in the U.S.
These revelations make me wonder, once again, how strategic a role corporate communications and marketing really play within some of the world’s largest organizations. After all, any senior communications executive worth his/her salt (or oil in this case) would have been warning management all along that it needed to walk the walk if it intended to paint itself "green."
And, yet, BP continues to run its print and broadcast advertisements extolling its many contributions to making our environment a little bit greener and a little bit friendlier. And, I’m sure they are doing any number of wonderful things. But, as my partner Edward Aloyisius Moed, likes to say: "Where there’s smoke, there’s fire."
Something’s rotten at BP that needs to be fixed ASAP. There have been too many environmental, ethical and management mistakes to warrant any continuation of their campaign. Instead, BP should launch an investigation, led by impartial, outside experts, to drill down deep into their operating philosophies and find out where the "leaks" are.
Until then, I’ll be laughing off their green initiative as yet another corporate example of "Do as I say, not as I do."
a sad part of this story is from a branding perspective, it was a case study in re-developing the brand’s identity and reinventing the retail environments to be more friendly, cleaner and welcoming. And, as a result their sales reflected it. Too bad, the brand took a step forward and three back.