I've never felt more fucked over by a company in my life than I have been feeling watching BP these past few weeks. This feeling is entirely my own fault, too.
From an Ogilvy case study highlighting BP's re-branding efforts about ten years ago:
"In 1999, British Petroleum merged with Amoco and then acquired the Atlantic Richfield Corporation and Burmah Castrol. The newly re-branded, global BP sought to position itself as transcending the oil sector, delivering top-line growth while remaining innovative, progressive, environmentally responsible and performance-driven. BP sought Ogilvy's expertise to demonstrate to key opinion leaders, business partners and their 100,000 employees worldwide how the company intended to go "beyond petroleum". "
I totally bought this...hook, line and sinker. I trusted them. I believe them and their bullshit.
I LOVED the re-branding approach BP launched about ten years ago. How do you take an old, dirty industry like oil and gas and turn it into something positive? Apparently, by repositioning your old logo into an environmentally friendly and colourful image of a sun. How do you rework a documented history of unsafe working conditions, global environmental damage and corporate staleness into something good? Apparently, by saying that you've moved on.
I'm sure not everyone bought it. I did, though. "Wow...look at how a company with the word 'petroleum' IN ITS NAME can leave it all behind." I thought...
I find myself pissed at Ogilvy as well for helping orchestrate the travesty of BP's re-branding efforts, which has now led, in part, to the environmental holocaust unraveling in the Gulf of Mexico. Their case study goes on to say:
"Our recommendation was to position BP as a new type of global energy company-one that confronts difficult issues like the conflict between energy and environmental needs and takes action beyond what is expected."
Unbelievable, Ogilvy. Are you sure you briefed your client properly?
BP itself continued to stroke this message, too...for years touting their responsibility, all the while racking up a record-breaking list of both environmental and industry violations. BP's Group VP of Marketing spoke about this in 2001, spouting the kind of corporate branding bullshit usually reserved for the agencies supporting them.
"The power of the brand rested in the ability of companies to create emotional bonds with products… the better that connection, the stronger the brand."
She said it all here and I refused to think about it. I sat hypnotized by their words, promises and ideas instead of their actions. Is that really what branding is? How did I get so duped?
I will never visit a BP fuel station again or purchase any of their products or services. This brand screwed me and has made me feel like an idiot for trusting them. Entirely my own fault.
A brown pelican is seen on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) via The Big Picture. Totally heartbreaking.