Home  › Social › Social Media

BP Uses Social PR Long After Oil Spill, But to What Effect?

  |  June 7, 2011   |  Comments

Florida seafood restaurant questions the campaign.

BP America's Facebook and Twitter accounts have become goodwill promotional centers for the Gulf Coast tourism and seafood businesses. But whether those industries appreciate the effort is another matter. The brand - beleaguered by the 2010 oil spill in that region - has posted more than 90 Facebook and Twitter messages in the past week.

An example from BP America's Facebook Page:


BP's social media efforts have sparked frustration in some corners. Shelley Yates is a marketing rep for The Fish House, a Pensacola Bay seafood restaurant located in northwestern Florida. The Fish House was featured in a video created by Ogilvy PR, handling BP's social media for the oil spill, that was posted to the petroleum brand's Facebook and YouTube pages.

"When they [shot] it, they said it wouldn't have anything to do with BP," Yates said. "But then it was put up on BP's Facebook Page and YouTube channel. And I don't think it was received well to be honest. I just think it looks too… The whole thing seems pretty contrived."

Beneath the 1-minute, 20-second video featuring her boss, Collier Merrill, on YouTube, Yate's point becomes illustrated by the following user comment: "What a bunch of lies. Wonder how much he got paid for doing this ad."

BP America, the U.S. arm of the British oil giant, declined an interview request but sent the following statement: "Since the Deepwater Horizon incident, BP promised to keep the public informed and, as a result, we're using a number of channels including social media. The purpose is to keep Gulf Coast residents and other stakeholders informed about BP’s efforts to live up to its commitments."

ClickZ also reached out to Betsy Lowther, senior digital strategist for Ogilvy PR, who Yates said handled the taping of her restaurant's video. Lowther didn't return phone calls or respond to an emailed request to discuss the brand's social media strategy.


Of BP's 90-odd Facebook posts in the last week, 32 centered on promoting positive reports on Gulf Coast beaches and other tourism destinations, while 30 heralded news and events about fishing and regional seafood eateries. Twenty-four of the messages pertained to general issues about the oil spill, and only seven were authored about other subjects. In each case, whether BP was speaking to its 61,000 Facebook "likers" or its 28,000 Twitter followers, the content was essentially the same.    


Yates from The Fish House said her company appreciates that BP wants to clear up some misconceptions about the state of Gulf Coast fish and beaches, but she also wondered if the brand's name hurts as much as it helps. She remarked that the media last year didn't improve matters by not truly fleshing out the story as the situations in Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana evolved.

"I think the perception of the oil coming on shore vs. the actual reality is what really hurt our season last year," Yates said. "They shared the same footage, that it was doom and gloom, all of the time. For the most part, it was beautiful. We had a few spots of oil wash up. But it wasn't the same as what the media portrayed, which I think scared a lot of people away."

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!


Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Social newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.


    Information currently unavailable


    • Online Marketing Coordinator
      Online Marketing Coordinator (NewMarket Health) - BaltimoreWant to learn marketing from the best minds in the business? NewMarket Health, a subsidiary...
    • Call Center Manager
      Call Center Manager (Common Sense Publishing) - Delray BeachWanted: Dynamic Call Center Manager with a Proven Track Record of Improving Response...
    • Interactive Product Manager
      Interactive Product Manager (Western Governors University) - Salt Lake CityWestern Governors University, one of the 20 largest universities...