greenpeace-bp-logoFirst Greenpeace ran a competition to help BP redesign its logo, and now the Washington Post is running a competition for the public to suggest slogans to help BP repair its battered image.

The competition is running until tomorrow noon, if anyone wants to have a go. So far the entries are pretty predictable:
BP=Best Poison
BP=Better Pollution
BP…Gas for your car and stomach.
BP…makes your car and stomach lurch.
BP…Blame the Public

The competition comes on the back of an article in the Post exploring just how battered BP’s image is in the wake of the Deepwater disaster.

“It’s probably the most notorious branding crisis in memory,” Tom Zara, director of corporate branding at Interbrand tells the paper.

And given some of the recent corporate scandals and financial collapses, that is no understatement.

The paper continues: “No one is arguing that BP doesn’t deserve the public relations bruising, said David Kotok, who monitors the oil industry as chief investment officer for Cumberland Advisors. Cumberland estimates that BP will pay out $50 billion to $80 billion in fines, legal damages and settlements related to the oil spill, but even after those checks are written there is still a big unknown in terms of a brand comeback.”

“There is a human and psychological factor that is impossible to measure,” Kotok tells the paper, “’BP’ becomes the identification of the perpetrator of the trauma and it’s a long-term relationship damaged.”

But BP’s problem is that it keeps being in the news as the villain. The oil may have stopped but the dirty tactics of the company have not. The longer these go on, the harder it will be for BP to rebuild the brand.

Yesterday’s NYT reports how “Lawmakers have criticized BP PLC for attempting to ‘muzzle’ scientists researching the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with confidentiality agreements and blocking the “open exchange of scientific data and analysis.””

The other problem for BP is that more and more evidence is now coming out that the US government was widely off the mark when it said that 75 per cent of oil was accounted for.

The more the scientific controversy continues, the more uncertainty for the Gulf residents on issues such as seafood safety will persist. And that can only be bad news for BP.

University of South Florida marine scientists have now found oil in sediments of a vital underwater canyon and observed evidence “that the oil has become toxic to critical marine organisms.”

Lab tests conducted aboard the research vessel Weatherbird II on the effects of oil have found that phytoplankton – the microscopic plants which make up the basis of the Gulf’s food web – and bacteria have been negatively impacted by surface and subsurface oil.

That could be disastrous news for the fisheries and other marine life.

Furthermore, Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University, will tell a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that only 10% of oil discharged into the ocean was “actually removed from the ocean.”

He will tell Congress that the Obama administration was “misleading” when it claimed that about three-quarters of the oil was broken up or accounted for.

And ironically the more the Obama administration misleads, the more people will blame BP too.


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