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BP’s RESPONSE TO THE GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL A CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS CASE STUDY
Giulia Carando & Katie Perugini
BP at a glance Key People SITUATION ANALYSIS The Spill Beyond Petroleum Campaign A Stained Reputation CRISIS MANAGEMENT EFFORTS BP’s Initial Response The public response Communications Plan STRATEGY Strategy Overview Restoring the environment Restoring the Economy Restoring the Company’s Image
5 6 7
8 9-10 11-12
13 14-15 15-16 17-20
Evaluation Our Evaluation Similar Cases Current Efforts Appendix Citations
21-22 22 -23 23-24 24 25 39
BP AT A GLANCE
22,400 service stations worldwide
rebranded to beyond operates in
petroleum in 2000
6 continents and over 80 countries United Kingdom
headquarters located in London, largest division is BP produces around
America, located in Houston, Texas
3.8 million barrels of oil equivalent
engages in exploration
and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading energy company measured by revenues $308.9 billion in 2010 hydro, nuclear, natural gas, coal and solar.
is the third-largest
exploration of alternative energy activities include biofuels,
was the first oil company to acknowledge that
carbon dioxide emissions contributed to the warming of the atmosphere
Tony Hayward Former Group Chief Executive
Tony Hayward joined BP in 1982 and in 1995, he became president of the BP group in Venezuela. He succeeded Lord Browne as group chief executive in May 2007. BP announced on 27 July 2010 that Hayward would be replaced by Bob Dudley as the company's chief executive effective as of 1 October 2010
Robert Dudley, Current Group Chief Executive
Robert Dudley became Group Chief Executive of BP on October 1, 2010 in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf. Between June 23 and September 30 2010 he served as the President and CEO of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization in the United States before succeeding Tony Hayward as Group Chief Executive of BP.
At 9:45 pm CDT on April 20, 2010, a deadly mixture of natural gas, mud, oil and concrete exploded up from approximately 5,000 feet below sea level onto the deck of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig stationed in the Gulf of Mexico. The initial explosion killed 11 platform workers and injured 17 others. The fire burned for a total of 36 hours before the oil rig sunk into the ocean on April 22. Due to a malfunction with the blowout preventer’s emergency function, the well was unable to be sealed allowing 5,000 barrels of crude oil to pollute the Gulf of Mexico each day.
The disaster was quickly declared the largest oil spill in United States history. Not only was the ocean surface glazed with an oily sheen, the impact on the marine ecosystems below the surface and on shore was devastating. Additionally, the livelihoods of residents living in the Gulf States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida were put in danger. The environmental disaster was an unprecedented crisis that no company would ever wish for. BP’s executives, advisors and the company as a whole, was unprepared to take the necessary steps to repair their image, the environment and the local economies the spill had altered. This was extremely evident during the first few months of BP’s crisis management and response effort. The oil spill sparked heated debates regarding a variety of issues; the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, government regulation and which entity was more at fault. BP was the well's owner and overall operator, Transocean, the rig's owner and Halliburton a subcontractor that was encasing the well pipe in cement. After multiple failed attempts and proposed solutions, the leak was capped on July 15, 2010 and the relief well successfully completed on September 19, 2010. It’s been reported that approximately 4.9 million barrels of crude oil leaked into the ocean before the well was capped. This case study will take you through the progression of BP’s errors, tactics and improved communication and management efforts as they responded to the largest Oil Spill in U.S. history.
BEYOND PETROLEUM CAMPAIGN
In July 2000, BP introduced a $200 million ad campaign designed by Oglivy & Mather to rebrand the company as environmentally-friendly and a leader in alternative energy. The campaign featured high-profile print and TV ads and used a number of bold tactics to successfully execute the company’s transformation. Not only did the ad campaign touch on BP’s investment in renewable energy such as their wind and solar sectors, it took the extra step and rebranded their name from British Petroleum to beyond petroleum. According to PR Watch, among the most visible changes was the transformation of BP’s 70 year-old, shield-style logo to a new, cheerful green and yellow sunburst. The new logo was strategically named after the Greek god of the sun, Helios, suggesting heat, light and nature. Bp’s website describes the logo as, “a pattern of interlocking shapes: like BP, a single entity created by many different parts working as one. This was particularly relevant, as the new brand was launched after a series of mergers and acquisitions. It united all the heritage companies and employees that now make up BP and its global brand.” Despite claims of “greenwashing” from environmentalists and politicians, there is not much dispute over the increase in favorable public opinion and brand awareness that resulted in the years following the campaign.
A STAINED REPUTATION
A STAINED REPUTATION
Despite the innovative beyond petroleum campaign and rebranding strategies, BP’s track record of social and environmental responsibility has failed at times to match up. In 2005, a gasoline filled tower at BP’s Texas City refinery exploded, killing 15 people and injuring 170 more. Investigations revealed that BP had ignored its own protocols for operating the tower, and a warning system had been disabled. BP pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and was forced to pay over $50 million in fines. Approximately a year later in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, around 4,800 barrels of oil leaked from a pipeline into the snow. Again, BP had been warned by one of its own quality assurance specialists of the potential danger from the corroded pipeline, however, the company ignored reports until it was too late and the oil spilled into the bay. “In May, 2008, BP was one of eight big oil companies to settle a lawsuit brought by more than a hundred public water providers, who charged that the companies' activities led to widespread contamination of public groundwater sources with methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, a gasoline additive. The companies jointly paid $423 million in cash, and agreed to pay 70 percent of future cleanup costs over the next 30 years. The suit claimed the oil companies used MTBE even though they were aware of the environmental and health risks the chemical posed.” In February 2010, BP’s shareholders defeated a resolution by a group of activist investors that would have required the company to look more closely at the environmental impact of a pending synthetic crude project in the Alberta tar sands. (The extraction of synthetic crude from oil sands is carbon-intensive and necessitates vast inputs of freshwater).
CRISIS MANAGEMENT EFFORTS
BP’S INITIAL RESPONSE TO THE OIL SPILL
BP’s first official response less than 24 hours after the initial explosion deflected the blame of the disaster, placing it on the owner of the oil rig, Transocean. On April 21, 2010 BP sent out a news release titled, “BP Offers Full Support to Transocean After Drilling Rig Fire.” In the days following the disaster, BP continually downplayed the amount of barrels leaking into the ocean and used traditional avenues of communication such as official statements, news releases and morning-show interviews to manage the message. BP barely apologized and had little success sending out clear and effective messages through the media and its executives. Furthermore, reports surfaced that BP had altered pictures of the spill and that employees had been ordered not to talk. These reports further tainted BP’s initial response efforts and stayed in the forefront of people’s minds despite the improvement of response tactics later on.
TONY HAYWARD, CEO
Tony Hayward had a number of factors working against him. First and foremost, he was grossly unprepared to deal with an accident of this magnitude. Early on, his series of unfortunate gaffes severely hurt BP’s image and credibility for the remainder of the summer.
"Well, it wasn't our accident, but we are absolutely responsible for the oil, for cleaning it up."
-May 3, 2010
“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” May 14, 2010 “The environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.” May 18, 2010 “I’m sorry — we're sorry — for the massive disruption this has caused their lives. And there's no one who wants this over more than I do. You know, I want my life back."- May 30, 2010
THE PUBLIC RESPONSE
In response to BP’s initial communications and management efforts, the public developed a myriad of creative tactics of their own. Some of the most notable received significant national media coverage and widespread viral notoriety. The “groundswell” of public discontent with BP took shape in many forms and certainly impacted the strategic tactics that BP later enacted.
While BP’s real twitter account, @BP_America, attempted to relay information regarding the company’s response, @BPGlobalPR was stealing the show. ABC reported, “In one week, the fake twitter account boasted more than 20,000 followers, while the real BP account had approximately 4,700.” The Wallstreet journal characterized the tweets as “dark humor” and reported that some of the followers believed the twitter account to be real. Although twitter does have a safeguard against fake accounts, BP’s real account was not verified, which prevented any significant action against the imposters. In an interview with the LA times, the fake BP PR professional said, “BP is doing everything we can to save our reputation and hopefully salvage some oil out of all this. We're making a ton of shirts and commercials about how we care, and I cleaned an ugly bird yesterday."
Greenpeace Campaign to rebrand BP
The well-known environmental advocacy group, Greenpeace, developed their own interactive campaign to encourage the public to help rebrand BP. According to the campaign, “BP's slick green logo doesn't suit a company that wants to invest in tar sands, the dirtiest oil there currently is.” Beginning on May 20, 2010, the public was able to submit their own design to a flickr album full of green and yellow logos accented with black skulls and oil-covered animals. Approximately 2,000 images were submitted to the rebrand BP flickr album and many of the best images still emerge on a Google image search of BP.
BP Spills Coffee YouTube Video "Don't worry about it. It's a small spill on a very large table.”
A viral sensation during the summer of 2010, the BP Spills Coffee YouTube Video by Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy made light of an otherwise dark environmental disaster. The parody boasts 12,046,674 views and caused the site to crash at one point during the summer due to its overwhelming popularity.
Live Oil Spill Feed Deepwater Horizon Response.com Google creates Crisis Response Page for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Watchdog boycott BP stations Anti-BP Facebook groups Alabama musician, Brent Burns writes a song to BP
To kill the well, clean up the oil in the shortest amount time and most effective way possible; and to restore the environment, the local economies and the company’s image.
Knowledge: To have the public know that BP acknowledged it was accountable for the disaster, was deeply concerned about the harm it caused and had a plan for what to do to fix the environment and local economies effected. Predisposition: To allow people to see and hear that BP understands the magnitude of the oil spill, and the effect it's having on people's lives, livelihood and the environment. Behavior: To fix the damage that has been cause ecologically and economically.
The primary audiences during BP’s crisis management efforts were the Gulf of Mexico residents living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. This included business owners, fishermen and women, life-long residents and community members and all individuals whose livelihood and environment was directly or indirectly are affected by the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Secondary audience is the American public and BP’s shareholders.
BP accepts full responsibility for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It is deeply concerned about the harm it has caused and is committed to rebuilding the local economies and the environment. BP is working to enact safety measures and the ethic of environmental responsibility into all aspects of the company.
BP is determined to restore the company’s image and gain the trust of the public and shareholders by communicating the developments and efforts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in a responsible and transparent manner.
"We will get this done. We will make this right."
Restoring the environment, the economy and restoring the company’s image.
As a result of the Deepwater Horizon accident and the lack of a crisis management plan, BP faced enormous criticism from the Gulf State communities, the general public and the shareholders. Not only did the company cause a major socio-economic disaster, its initial reaction and response effort in the areas of communication and management was also quite damaging. As a result of the spill, the ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico would face remarkable stress and pollution. In addition, local businesses along the gulf coast that relied on fishing, oil and tourism as a major income source would also face major difficulties in the months that followed. BP’s initial response to the horrific accident did not paint an image of a credible and transparent company. Thus, as time progressed, BP’s need for an effective communications and management strategy was heightened. On June 16th 2010, after pressure from the Federal Government, BP introduced a $20 billion fund as the resource to meet the need for people’s claims derived from oil spill damages. Setting a budget was the foundation BP needed to convince the public it was a responsible company. In order to allocate its financences properly and preventivenly, BP cut its dividends for the 3rd and last quarter of 2010. With this move BP demonstrated that its priorities were focused on effectively cleaning up the oil spill disaster. Secondly, BP needned to collaborate with the state governments in order to restore the local environment and economies. As a result, in June 23rd 2010, BP introduced the Gulf of Mexico Organization- a subgroup of BP- with the purpose of ensuring that the oil company would fulfill its promises to the people of the Gulf Coast. The organization was given the responsibility to: continuing executing the clean up, communicate with Government official to meet BP’s commitments effectively and efficiently, keep the public informed on BP’s clean up and the remediation activities, implement the $20 billion fund to compensate those hit by the damages of the oil spill and calculate and evaluate the spill impact on the environment. BP ‘s intention was to form a department that was direclty responible for every effort that involved the oil spill as a way to humanize and humble the company. BP’s strategy was to show and communicate its strong commitment to the environment and socio-economic status of the Gulf of Mexico as a way to engage with the local communites, the general public and the shareholders. In collaboration with the gulf state governments, the Gulf of Mexico Organization was responsible for implementig the tactics to restore the environment, the economies and the images of the gulf states as an overall strategy to improve the trust and confidence in the company.
RESTORING THE ENVIRONMENT
- Monitored health and environmental impacts
To help guide the oil recovery and clean-up efforts, and to assist in understanding any potential health and environmental impacts of the Deepwater horizon accident, BP collaborates with the US Coast Guard, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other government agencies to test the water and sediments for oil and dispersant as well as air-quality sampling monitoring program.
- Natural resource damage assessment
BP participates in an assessment of natural resource injuries in the Gulf of Mexico with federal and state trustees, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Interior as well as trustees for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Each agency acts as the trustee of natural resources which it owns controls or manages for the benefit of the public.
- Gulf of Mexico Research
BP set up a $500-million Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to study and monitor the long-term effects of the oil spill and its potential impacts on the environment and human health. BP commits d to understanding the long-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon accident. The 10-year program seeks to engage and utilize the expertise of some of the world’s best research scientists to study the following: •spread of the oil and other contaminants and what ultimately happened to them •environmental effects of the oil spill on Gulf of Mexico ecosystems, and ecosystem recovery •technology that could help detect and clean up offshore oil spills, and reduce their impact •potential impact of the oil spill and response on human health
-Technical Report Documentation
At the federal level, BP is works with the US Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA, US Fish & Wildlife Service, NOAA and others. At the local and state level, BP shares information and data with the appropriate environmental, public health, wildlife and other agencies and departments. .
RESTORING THE ECONOMIES
BP worked to facilitate economic restoration throughout the Gulf Coast, with special emphasis on two of the region’s most impacted industries: tourism and seafood.
The Deepwater Horizon accident had a tremendous impact on local economies during and after the oil spill. Even after the well was capped and oil was no longer reaching the shoreline, it was difficult to restore public confidence. To jumpstart economic recovery, BP donated a total of $146 million to help promote tourism in the regions affected by the spill. The first $70 million was donated a few weeks after the spill, whereas the remaining $46 million followed in fall 2010. Each state used the funds to develop marketing plans focused on key local tourism selling points. Many of the states have used the money to create events and festivals to attract tourism to the coasts.
BP collaborated with local organizations to promote the Gulf seafood and design programs that monitored the safety of the seafood. For example, in Louisiana, the company donated $18 million over a three-year period to test spill-related impacts on the seafood. In addition, BP founded a $13 million fund for a fishery-resource center that monitors and studies the state of the local seafood affected by the oil spill.
BP Promoting Gulf Coast Seafood
BP made an effort to work with state and local governments to promote the Gulf Cost seafood. More than 290 restaurants across America and the Gulf Cost supported “America’s night out seafood” which served the restaurants’ signature dishes using the seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.
Payments and Investments in the Gulf States
RESTORING THE COMPANY’S IMAGE
In an effort to improve message management and the image of the company, BP hired Purple Strategies and the Feehery Group to work alongside the Brunswick Group and Oglivy and Mather to advise the Gulf of Mexico Restoration Organization. Purple Strategies, the Feehery Group and the Brunswick group were all known to have strong political ties in Washington D.C. Specifically, Oglivy aided with social and digital media response efforts through Facebook and twitter and Purple Strategies with the 50 million dollar newspaper, radio and television ad campaign.
Purple Strategies: A
Bipartisan corporate communications firm led by former Bush strategist Alex Castellanos and Democratic media consultant Steve McMahon.
The Brunswick Group: An agency known for financial PR, Brunswick had worked with
BP prior to the spill and stayed on to offer advice. Partner, Michele Davis, was agency lead on the crisis.
The Feehery Group: Led by John Feehery, former chief spokesman for Speaker of the
House J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and frequent guest on CNN.
Oglivy & Mather: Creators of BP’s beyond petroleum campaign and advisors on social
Anne Womack-Kolton: BP hired former spokeswoman for Vice President Dick
Cheney as head of U.S. media relations. She previously worked for the Brunswick Group.
$50 MILLION AD CAMPAIGN Newspaper
BP bought full page advertisements in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. It has been calculated that BP spent at least $5.6 million on ads in those three papers alone for the month of June.
The television ads featured Gulf Coast natives, CEO Tony Hayward apologizing and seabirds chirping in a coastal setting. Hayward repeats BP’s message, "For those affected and your families, I'm deeply sorry," Hayward said. "We will make this right."
SOCIAL MEDIA Twitter:@ BP_America. The Official account of BP America to stay current on
BP’s commitment to the Gulf and its work towards secure, affordable energy while addressing climate change.
Facebook page: Updates from the Gulf
Although not active anymore, it served to give quick updates on the oil spill cleanup and response.
Facebook page: BP America- Voices from the Gulf
Still active, it is a promotional page that features activities featured in the Gulf of Mexico ranging from suggested restaurants, vacation spots, and real stories from the Gulf Coast natives.
Flickr page: Bp America Photostream.
This page features BP photos covering several subjects: the cleanup, community outreach, claims, health and safety, wildlife, beaches, and BP altered images.
Branded YouTube Channel
The channel features the Gulf stories, restoring the environment, restoring the economy and BP priorities. The branded YouTube channel was launched almost a month after the explosion on May 18, 2010 and cost BP about $250,000 to create. To date, the videos have been accessed by more than 16 million viewers, including 10 million viewers on their website. Shows both viral and television ads that explain what specific measures BP took to solve the problem. They tend to showcase CEO, Tony Hayward as both narrator and face of the company, telling viewers the message, “to those affected and their families, I’m deeply sorry,” and that “we will get this done. We will make this right.”
Purchasing search engine terms
BP bought key words related to the oil spill including: oil spill, gulf spill, oil disaster. The company is payed as much as 10K per day to maintain its listing as no.1 on search results page.
Gulf of Mexico Restoration Page
Both a communications and management tactic, BP created an interactive section of their website dedicated to the spill. It is a comprehensive section, complete with photos, videos, and colorful maps that track details of the cleanup. It is an aesthetically pleasing portal for everything BP Oil Spill related such as, community outreach, news, state updates, tourism, seafood, claims and partners. There is a sub-page for each state affected, highlighting developments from each region.
News from the gulf: www.alabamagulfresponse.com
CRISIS COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
To earn high marks in crisis management, an organization should first have a plan in place with both leaders and employees well aware of protocol before disaster strikes. Second, as soon as the crisis occurs, organizations need to construct a clear message and stick with it throughout the ordeal. Last, the organization needs to quickly disseminate accurate, credible and honest information through various mediums. If these steps are followed, an organization stands a much better chance of surviving the crisis with minimal damage. BP didn't have a public relations strategy prior to the Deepwater Horizon spill. When the accident occurred, the company failed to communicate the three key messages the public needed to hear: BP was accountable for the disaster, was deeply concerned about the harm it caused and had a plan for what to do to make it better. The initial response efforts to the crisis were textbook examples of what not to do. BP deflected blame, responded with false information and seemed painfully detached from the horrific accident. Even their past response efforts hurt them as well. BP’s history shows it has had a habit of deflecting responsibility and failing to be proactive in preventing missteps. Prior to the accident, the company had slashed public and government relations departments for costcutting purposes. All these factors compounded to set BP up for initial failure with their communication and management of the oil spill. Media experts and average citizens alike could agree, BP’s immediate response to the crisis was a fiasco, however, large improvements were made.
Prior to spill, BP had Facebook, Twitter and a Flickr page but rarely used these tools to engage with their publics in a significant way. After numerous Hayward gaffes and extensive public uproar BP begin to control their message using social media. For every tweet the real BP account tweeted, it was dwarfed by the amount of negative oil spill hashtags and famous tweets from @BPGlobalPR. As BP began to take advantage of flickr and document their cleanup and response efforts, Greenpeace, coastal citizens and more used flickr as well to post their own pictures that sometimes conflicted with BP’s. However, BP did improve their use in the area of viral videos and the branded YouTube channel. Social media presence and effective use did improve as time progressed. After the
22 spill, BP seemed to have a more controlled grasp on the message and all the social media tools to go with it.
TV AD Campaign
In June, BP launched a $50 million TV Ad campaign featuring CEO Tony Hayward apologizing for the disaster and saying “We will get this done and make it right”. Despite the fact that the ad was aired on national TV it was highly criticized by the general public as well as President Obama. In fact, the Ad was thought to be controversial there was a sense of disbelief in the words said by BP’s CEO. The criticism was over the fact that BP spent money on advertising, not the communities affected by the disaster. The CEO’s interaction with the media made the situation worse making the communities affected, the general public, and the media ferocious. Even after the ad campaign attempted to humanize and humble BP, the media mercilessly went after Hayward and characterized him as out of touch--eventually leading him to leave BP.
Indicators of people’s confidence
As a result of the crisis, BP stock exchange plunged from 651.46 on April 16, 2010 to the current price at 435 as in October 24, 2011. The stock exchange is often a proxy of people’s expectations in reaction to positive or negative shocks. The scarred reputation cost BP to suffer a major stock exchange loss, making it difficult to return to its original level.
BP is a big company that prior to the Oil Spill, thought nothing too horrible could happen. In this case, past actions spoke louder than words during the time of the oil spill. Past response efforts, historical track records and the poor immediate crisis response hurt BP the most.
While initial efforts seemed disorganized, dishonest and weak, BP did eventually turn their communications and management around. Even though it was due to public and governmental pressure, creating the Gulf of Mexico Restoration Organization was a huge step in the right direction. Another improved PR tactic was the purchasing of Key word search engine terms. Although ethics of this tactic could be questioned, in the realm of information management, it ended up a smart move. By purchasing the search terms, BP drove millions of viewers to their response portal. Driving viewers to the portal, allowed BP an increased chance of successfully communicating the messages they wanted to communicate, in a way they wanted to communicate it.
The Exxon Corporation’s reputation was stained after the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in 1989. The company’s problems were dramatically multiplied by the way they handled the accident. The major problems that the company was not able to address appropriately were: how the spill happened, why an unlicensed third party was at the helm at the time, why more equipment needed for the cleanup was not available and how the country could not ensure such a horrendous disaster. In addition to these unanswered questions the company made the following mistakes that are at the core of a crisis management response. The Exxon CEO did not travel to Alaska this gave the impression that the company did not care much about the pollution disaster. The company’s top executive declined to comment for almost a week after the spill, giving the impression that Exxon was not responding dynamically against the crisis. Public statement lied about the gravity of the disaster saying that the severity of the spill was minimal. The dissemination of information was not global but only in Valdez; in addition the media relation staff was not informed on what was going on so they could not answer questions from reports elsewhere. The advertisement that appeared on a newspaper was run 10 days after the spill and did not take responsibility for the spill. Exxon lost the support of consumers, journalists and opinion leaders by the way it appeared to ignore the public. After the crisis, companies have a short “window of
opportunity” when you have to make it clear you are in control and managing the issues involved. If that chance is missed it can be difficult or impossible to recover.
JOHNSON and JOHNSON
Johnson and Johnson became role model case study on how to handle a crisis. Extra Strength Tylenol caused seven deaths in Chicago in 1982. Media interest in the case was immediate and intense. The company decided to answer the media the weekend following the poisonings. Over that weekend the company received 300 media calls. Chairman James Burke appeared on TV programs. When the company decided to keep Tylenol brand alive in a repackaged container it hosted a massive news conference via 30-city teleconferencing hookup. The company received more than 125,000 press clippings on the tragedy, nearly all of them favorable. Tylenol regained more than 80% of the market share. J&J successfully portrayed itself to the public as a company willing to do the right thing regardless the cost. This case demonstrated the value openness and consistency with the media when an organization finds itself in a major disaster.
The Deepwater Horizon accident and the initial negative response scared the image of the company and path to come back up will require continuous efforts to gain that trust back. Thus, BP’s current focus lies on portraying BP as a changed company that is characterized by stronger more valuable and sustainable values. BP’s efforts to live up to this description features: meeting its socio-economic commitments caused by the oil spill caused to the local communities, changing its management operations forming stronger governance over its contractors, meeting the growing demand to secure affordable energy to enable economies to prosper- while addressing the issue of climate change, safeguarding the people working for BP and ensuring that safety management and operations are a focus in BP business, in light of the oil spill, BP’s focus is on managing the impact that the company can have on the environment where it operates, BP strives to make a positive economic impact investing in the local communities where it operates.
Brunswick Put to Ultimate Test as BP Grows Increasingly Toxic
Catastrophe Shoves Shop Better Known for Financial Comms Into Uncharted Waters; 45% of Readers Say They Would Tackle Brand's Rehab
By: Michael Bush Published: June 07, 2010
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If ever there was a PR agency tasked with putting lipstick on the metaphorical pig, it's Brunswick. The 23-year-old independent agency that started in London is the lead communications shop working with BP to try to manage the messaging around the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, now in its sixth week and dubbed the worst environmental crisis in the history of the country. But given that BP's crisis-communications strategy so far is disastrous, industry insiders wonder whether Brunswick -- known largely for financial PR and not considered the go-to shop for a catastrophe of this magnitude -- is the right firm for the job. Or, frankly, if anyone can do it. The most recent communications efforts from BP rolled out last week in the form of print ads promising to "make this right" and a one-minute spot featuring an apology from CEO Tony Hayward that no one seems anxious to take credit for. BP's lead creative agency Ogilvy & Mather was not responsible for the print ads (the agency referred all calls to the client) and a CNN report named political advertising firm Purple Strategies as the creative shop responsible. Someone who answered the phone at Purple Strategies said only, "Thanks for the inquiry, but we're not confirming or denying any information." While the story is leading most major newscasts and Brunswick's client has been painted as the ultimate villain, it's a scene not all that unfamiliar to Michele Davis, a partner at Brunswick Group and agency lead on the BP crisis. Before joining the agency Ms. Davis worked at the Department of the Treasury during the financial crisis as a senior adviser to Secretary Hank Paulson, and before that she worked in the White House on foreign policy during the latter stages of the Iraq war. Ms. Davis, who is based in Brunswick's Washington office, spoke to Ad Age from Houston, BP's center of operations, last Friday. Not surprisingly, Ms. Davis's answers to questions like "How many people do you have on the ground in Houston?" and, "How hard is it to get a client in a situation like this to take your advice?" were "I'm not going to get into that" and "No comment," respectively. She did say that the agency was working closely with BP executives, including Mr. Hayward, providing "high-level strategic advice and communications support." She said the agency is also working with Anne Womack-Kolton, a former spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney who BP recently named head of U.S. media relations. She and Ms. Davis worked together in the White House. The backstory The relationship between BP and Brunswick started in London and dates back many years. The agency, already with a strong foothold in London and Brussels, hired former Wall Street Journal Finance Editor Steven Lipin in 2001 to run the New York office, which was the start of the firm establishing a stronger presence in the U.S. All of the industry executives and competitors of Brunswick that Ad Age spoke to, who all asked not to be identified, praised the shop for its work in the mergers-and-acquisitions, financialcommunications, litigation, CEO-positioning and corporate-communications sectors. But a number of them questioned the decision to have the agency's Washington office lead the crisis based on its size. An executive at one of Brunswick's competitors said the agency is an A-plus U.K. firm and a very good New York firm but pretty small in Washington. "My guess is they are doing the best they can," said one of Brunswick's competitors. "If this were an M&A situation in the U.S., they'd be one of the first shops you'd
look to hire. But if someone said there is a big Washington problem, who are you going to hire? Brunswick probably wouldn't be one of your first 10 names." Toby Odone, a spokesman at BP, said the company was relying on Brunswick because the agency has been very "useful" for it over the past few years. "It seemed logical that we should continue with them during this crisis," Mr. Odone said. Brunswick said the BP work is a firm-wide effort with partners from Brunswick's London, New York and San Francisco offices taking part. Brunswick's Ms. Davis said she wouldn't discuss the size of her team but said "this is a global firm." According to its website, Brunswick has nearly 80 senior partners and a staff of more than 470 in 16 cities including New York, London, Abu Dhabi, Berlin, Stockholm, Beijing, Vienna and San Francisco. Its service offerings range from debt and restructuring to IPO and media relations, litigation and crisis. Crisis credentials Su-Lin Nichols, a director in Brunswick's Washington office, added: "Each of the partners and directors in the Washington office have experience working on crisis communications and major national and international issues." Brunswick cited its crisis communications credentials as including Owens Corning's asbestos and bankruptcy issues, Gap's child-labor issue and Gillette's litigation issues. While BP's PR fiasco might seem like the sort of thankless job most would stay away from, there is no shortage of industry people who would jump at the chance -- even at this late stage in the game, when consumers are livid at BP, angry at the Federal response and so sick of "spin" that @BPGlobalPR, a satirical Twitter feed, now has over 120,000 followers. In an online poll conducted by Ad Age on June 4, 45% of the more than 300 respondents said they would rise to the challenge; 43% said no, citing ethical reasons; and 12% said it would depend on the money involved. In a separate interview, Gene Grabowski, senior VP and chairman of crisis and litigation practice at Levick Strategic Communications, said it would probably be the greatest challenge of a career. "I would not have hesitated early on," he said. "At this point we would have to do a lot more advanced work and take more variables under consideration, but we would take them on." Michael Kempner, CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' PR shop MWW Group, said he would also take on the BP assignment, but only if certain conditions were met. "I might consider it only on the condition that they would commit to total transparency and be an agent for change," Mr. Kempner said. "I would also potentially work with them to provide true solutions to the residents of the Gulf Coast and major funding to repair the damage caused to lives, the environment and the economy. I would not work with them to cover up, 'spin' or justify their past and current behavior."
BP Buys 'Oil' Search Terms to Redirect Users to Official Company Website
By EMILY FRIEDMAN (@EmilyABC) VENICE, La., June 5, 2010 Be careful where you click, especially
if you're looking for news on the BP oil spill. BP, the very company responsible for the oil spill that is already the worst in U.S. history, has purchased several phrases on search engines such as Google and Yahoo so that the first result that shows up directs information seekers to the company's official website. A simple Google search of "oil spill" turns up several thousand news results, but the first link, highlighted at the very top of the page, is from BP. "Learn more about how BP is helping," the link's tagline reads. A spokesman for the company confirmed to ABC News that it had, in fact, bought these search terms to make information on the spill more accessible to the public. "We have bought search terms on search engines like Google to make it easier for people to find out more about our efforts in the Gulf and make it easier for people to find key links to information on filing claims, reporting oil on the beach and signing up to volunteer," BP spokesman Toby Odone told ABC News. But several search engine marketing experts are questioning BP's intentions, suggesting that controlling what the public finds when they look online for oil spill information is just another way for the company to try and rebuild the company's suffering public image. According to Kevin Ryan, the CEO of California-based Motivity Marketing, research shows that most people can't tell the difference between a paid result pages, like the ones BP have, and actual news pages. "If you look at it from BP's perspective it's a brilliant move," Ryan said. "The other option BP had was to just not do this and let the news interpret what's going on. "But they're getting so much bad press that directing traffic to their own site is a great PR strategy," he said.
Terms related to the spill, from "oil spill" to "gulf disaster" to "BP," have consistently remained in the list of most-searched terms on Google since the spill began in April. "If they're not buying that link that goes back to their message, they're kind of leaving the universe to kind of decide for itself," Ryan said. "It's actually pretty proactive for the brand."
BP: A Textbook Example Of How Not To Handle PR
by Elizabeth Shogren April 21, 2011 Within hours of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Glenn DaGian was on the phone. He had retired a year earlier after working with BP and Amoco for 30 years. He wanted back in the game."Every day thereafter, for about a week, I kept saying, do you want my help, do you want my help?" he says.DaGian watched from the sidelines as BP executives declared it was not their accident, blamed their contractors and made the company look arrogant and callous. The company's response has become a textbook example of how not to do crisis management. "I was literally yelling at the TV set," DaGian says. "I thought that the first reactions should have been more humble and more conciliatory. I was very upset that they didn't apologize. It sounded like they were hiding behind the lawyers' skirts." Still, when BP called DaGian about a week into the disaster, he jumped into his car. BP sent him as an ambassador to groups of fishermen and other people across South Louisiana. DaGian, who grew up in southwest Louisiana, chokes up when he remembers the encounters. "They were so scared that they were going to lose their way of life," he says. "I really got real emotional about it." His accent signaled that he shared their roots. At one meeting, a retired history teacher asked if he knew they were descendants of French pirates, and that long ago, British pirates raped and plundered their ancestors. "And then she squeezes my hand and she says, 'Tell me, son, does BP stand for British pirates?'" he says. "And I had to explain to her that, no, we were not British pirates, and BP meant well, and we would fix the situation." 'Every Day He Was Making A New Gaffe' DaGian knew one reason for the company's colossal PR missteps. CEO Tony Hayward had slashed BP's public- and government-relations shop to cut costs. So, Hayward was listening to outside consultants and rookies. They let him walk the beaches in a starched white shirt. They didn't muzzle him despite repeated insensitive comments, like this one: "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I'd like my life back." When a group of Louisiana state officials asked about Hayward, DaGian let his exasperation show. "I said, 'The only time Tony Hayward opens his mouth was to change feet,' " DaGian recalls. "It seemed like every day he was making a new gaffe. He didn't understand the animal that is the media. He didn't understand the public's perception of a foreigner in south Louisiana." Current BP officials wouldn't comment on the record for this story. But people familiar with the inside of BP's crisis control effort and outside experts say early on, BP didn't have a public relations strategy. It failed to communicate the three key messages the public needed to hear: That BP was accountable for the disaster, was deeply concerned about the harm it caused and had a plan for what to do. Experts also agree that Hayward's propensity to say the wrong thing made him the wrong choice to be the face of the crisis, and BP's board took too long to figure that out. "Clearly he did not mean to be mean, even though in some cases he came across that way," says Glenn Selig, a crisis management consultant whose clients include former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Selig says the company's PR advisers didn't serve Hayward well. Instead of rescuing his image, a slogan the company launched with a slick ad starring its CEO made things even worse. "We will get this done, we will make this right," Hayward says in the ad.
Selig says it was like a doctor in an emergency room full of dying people telling family members that everything will be fine. "They were putting out this message saying, 'Trust us. We'll be able to make things right,' at a time when they obviously couldn't. The oil was gushing like crazy and they couldn't cap it. I think that that was a horrible misstep," Selig says. "It's very hard to believe that everything is going to be OK when you're still in a crisis. What we need to hear at that point is, 'We're doing everything we can to get it under control.' " A 'Failing Grade' Clarke Caywood, director of Northwestern University's graduate public relations department, is working on a book that delves into BP's crisis response fiasco. Caywood says it was bad public relations for BP executives to initially cover up both the seriousness of the accident and their inability to quickly fix it. "They should have been prepared to admit that they didn't have it under control, because they didn't have it under control," Caywood says. And later on, when scientists found signs of huge plumes of oil in the deep water, Caywood says, BP executives were wrong to deny their existence. "They were either uncomfortable with telling the truth or unable to tell the truth," he adds. Caywood says he'd give the company's crisis management effort a "failing grade." "While I think the company will survive, its reputation has been irreparably damaged," he says. The Benefit Of Social Media BP does get some compliments for replacing Hayward with Mississippi native Bob Dudley, creating an independent $20 billion compensation fund and running television ads that feature Gulf Coast natives. And BP insiders say the company quickly ramped up its social media campaign, which helped counteract earlier PR failures. "I think they did a great job, considering the pressure they were under on so many other fronts," says Steve Marino, a BP consultant who worked for Ogilvy & Mather at the time. Marino came on board in mid-May to lead BP's fledgling social media team. Before the explosion, BP had no dedicated social media staff and only a couple-hundred followers on Facebook. Marino set up a YouTube channel. He says the detailed technical briefings posted there helped people understand what BP was up against. During the peak of the crisis, tens of thousands of people were following BP on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Marino says people's rage toward the company came through loud and clear. "We let people vent their anger and their frustration on Facebook or in response to any of the tweets that we put up there," says Marino, who now works for MSL Group. "I think the best thing that social media did was to give people that outlet and allow people to feel that BP was hearing them, which they were." Twitter gave BP a way to get its news out fast — without the media in the middle. And it created a new way to interact with traditional media. On the day BP finally capped the well, Marino's team was monitoring CNN when an expert guest incorrectly told viewers that something was amiss. "When we were on the phone with the producer from CNN, we literally just told them to read the most recent tweet, and they used that tweet to correct the story," Marino recalls. "It was great to see social media be able to, in real time, get the right information out about such an important critical moment," Marino adds. Yet BP's image is still in tatters. And retiree Glenn DaGian is still trying to help rescue it by pushing BP to do more to restore the Gulf Coast. "I want to be able to proudly tell people I worked for BP. I don't want people to snicker by saying we were an environmental corporate criminal," he says.He is determined not to end up like the people he knows who worked for Enron. BP will start doing the right thing, or he'll become the company's biggest critic.
BP Rolling Out New Ads Aimed at Repairing Image
By SUZANNE VRANICA
Undeterred by criticism of a new TV commercial featuring its leader, BP PLC is pressing ahead with a major ad campaign?in an effort to rescue its badly damaged images torrents of oil continue to spew into the Gulf of Mexico. "We are preparing a series of ads to air over the next days and weeks," said Andrew Gowers, a spokesman for the British oil company. BP CEO Tony Hayward in Fourchon, La., last month talking to reporters about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. President Barack Obama blasted the company on Friday for reportedly spending $50 million on television advertising as the company scrambles to fix its leaking well. BP rolled out a new TV ad late last week featuring a personal apology from Chief Executive Tony Hayward. In the spot, he promises U.S. taxpayers won't be footing the bill for the cleanup. As images of the cleanup effort appear on screen, he says: "To those affected and their families, I am deeply sorry." Early indications suggest the ad isn't hitting the mark with consumers and crisis experts. "The ad failed to resonate in a meaningful way," said Ju Young Lee, co-founder and chief scientist of Ace Metrix, a Los Angeles research firm that polled consumers on their reaction to it. "In a nut shell," she added, "what consumers are saying is that they have been waiting for BP to say something and, after hearing it, they say they didn't learn anything new." In its poll of 560 consumers ages 21 to 54, Ace Metrix found that about 75% disagreed that Mr. Hayward was the right person to lead BP out of its image disaster. Ms. Lee said one in five respondents said they had a hard time believing Mr. Hayward's sincerity in the ad. "It's very unfortunate that Tony Hayward is the face of this crisis," said James S. O'Rourke, a professor of management at the University of Notre Dame. BP has spent too much time
"cleaning up" after Mr. Hayward's public missteps, added Mr. O'Rourke, referring to recent gaffes such as a comment by Mr. Hayward that he "wanted [his] life back." Mr. Hayward later apologized for the remark, which was regarded as insensitive in view of the deaths of 11 workers when the drilling rig BP was leasing exploded on April 20. Mr. Gowers said BP is tracking the reaction to its ads and is "happy with how they are performing." He wouldn't say whether Mr. Hayward will appear in the new ads. The campaign "will include a range of people and information about our response to the crisis," Mr. Gowers added. The company declined to say how much it is spending on the effort. It has suspended all of its regular corporate advertising, and is using its ad budget to address the oil spill and the resulting environmental crisis. Last year, BP shelled out almost $100 million on ad time and space in the U.S., according to an ad-tracking unit of WPP PLC. BP bypassed its longtime ad agency, WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, to create the new television ads, enlisting Purple Strategies, a Washington public-affairs firm that is owned by Republican strategist Alex Castellanos and Democratic consultant Steve McMahon, according to a person familiar with the matter. BP recently hired a new head of media relations in the U.S., Anne Womack Kolton, a former U.S. Energy Department official who was an aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney. British public- and government-relations firm Brunswick Group is also among those working to repair BP's image. BP has had Brunswick on retainer for some time. The oil company also has enlisted several other U.S. firms in the Gulf states to work on its communications. In crafting its TV ad, BP was following a familiar and often-successful crisis playbook by casting its corporate chief as the face of the crisis. Chrysler similarly used Lee Iacocca to win back consumers skeptical of its vehicles after the company sought federal help to survive, crisis experts say. More recently, Domino's Pizza Inc. overcame a PR disaster by having its then U.S. president Patrick Doyle, now CEO, apologize on YouTube after a video of Domino's workers handling sandwiches in an unsanitary way surfaced on the Web. Toyota Motor Corp. was widely criticized for not having its CEO, Akio Toyoda, appear in ads at the onset of the Japanese auto maker's recent spate of recalls.
Mr. Hayward's TV ad also has become fodder for late-night talk shows. "Hey, here is an idea: Why don't you take all that money and stuff it in the hole?" said host Jimmy Kimmel, on his show. Mr. Kimmel also aired a spoof of the spot. The oil company has much riding on the pitch. It has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build its image over the years using slogans such as "Beyond Petroleum," as it tried to position itself as the "greenest" of the big oil companies. The strategy seemed to work. BP ranks as the 83rd-largest brand in the world, according to Interbrand, a branding firm owned by Omnicom Group Inc. The BP brand has suffered a "catastrophic setback from an online buzz standpoint," said Zeta Interactive, a digital marketing firm that tracks online sentiment by monitoring 150 million blogs, message boards, social media posts and Twitter. Before the crisis began, BP had an 89% positive buzz score, the second-best score of all oil-andgas brands, after Exxon Mobil Corp., and comparable to brands such as Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc., according to Zeta. Since the oil-spill disaster, BP's reputation and buzz score now rank on par with embattled brands such as Toyota and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Zeta said that three of the most common words used online in connection with BP are "disaster," "shame" and "blame." Crisis experts say it's a no-win situation. Chris Gidez, U.S. director of crisis communications at Hill & Knowlton NY, a unit of WPP, said: "Until the leak is stopped, no amount of advertising or PR will help."
BP's "Beyond Petroleum" Campaign Losing its Sheen
Submitted by Anne Landman on May 3, 2010 - 2:31pm Back in July, 2000, British Petroleum launched a high-profile, $200 million public relations ad campaign designed by Ogilvy & Mather to position the company as environmentally-friendly. The company introduced a new slogan, "Beyond Petroleum," and changed its 70 year-old, sheild-style logo to a new, cheerful green and yellow sunburst. To many, the "Beyond Petroleum" campaign has always been ludicrous. After all, not only did it pitch BP's smallest energy sector while ignoring its major one, but BP's investment in extractive oil operations dwarfed its investment in renewable energy. BP spent a mere $45 million in 1999 to buy a solar energy company called Solarex -- a microscopic acquisition compared to the $26.5 billion it invested to buy ARCO to expand its oil drilling portfolio. BP is also the company behind the environmentally controversial (and some would say disastrous) oil sands project in Alberta, Canada. Now, in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP's greenwashing campaign looks even less slick. The company's hypocrisy and greenwashing have risen to the surface, and are spreading uncontrollably.
The oily environmental disaster in the Gulf has drawn closer scrutiny of BP's record, and it reveals that the company is no stranger to major accidents. Pro-Publica reports that BP has been at the center of some of the worst oil and gas-related disasters in the U.S. In 2005, a major explosion destroyed a gasoline-filled tower at BP's Texas City, Texas refinery, killing 15 people and injuring 170 more. Investigation revealed that BP had ignored its own protocols for operating the tower, and a warning system had been disabled. BP pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and shelled out more than $50 million in fines. About a year after the Texas City accident, around 4,800 barrels of oil leaked into the snow around a pipeline in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay. BP had been warned by one of its own quality assurance specialists that they could expect a potential catastrophe from the corroded pipeline, but the company ignored the reports until it was too late.
In May, 2008, BP was one of eight big oil companies to settle a lawsuit brought by more than a hundred public water providers, who charged that the companies' activities led to widespread contamination of public groundwater sources with methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, a gasoline additive. The companies jointly paid $423 million in cash, and agreed to pay 70 percent of future cleanup costs over the next 30 years. The suit claimed the oil companies used MTBE even though they were aware of the environmental and health risks the chemical posed. The U.S. Department of Justice has also charged BP with manipulating the market price of propane. BP agreed to pay over $300 million in fines in the case.
Spill, Baby Spill
Despite, or maybe because of, its history of fatal accidents, environmental disasters, fines and public deceit, BP is still trying to greenwash its image. Its Web pages are filled with bogus statements, like "We try to work in ways that will benefit the communities and habitats where we do business -- and earn the world's respect." While more people are starting to see through this campaign of denial, BP still has a few cheerleaders, like failed vice presidential candidate-turned-Fox News commentator Sarah Palin, who on April 30 posted a buck-up piece in support of more domestic -- and even offshore -drilling on her Facebook page. If they haven't already, BP's disingenuous words of support for developing low-carbon, renewable energy sources will increasingly fall on deaf ears as the country' attention remains riveted instead on the desecration of one of the nation's most beautiful and valuable natural resources: the beleaguered Gulf coast.
BP Offers Full Support to Transocean After Drilling Rig Fire
Release date: 21 April 2010 BP today offered its full support to drilling contractor Transocean Ltd. and its employees after fire caused Transocean's semisubmersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon to be evacuated overnight, saying it stood ready to assist in any way in responding to the incident. Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward said: "Our concern and thoughts are with the rig personnel and their families. We are also very focused on providing every possible assistance in the effort to deal with the consequences of the incident." BP, which operates the licence on which Transocean's rig was drilling an exploration well, said it was working closely with Transocean and the U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the emergency response, and had been offering its help - including logistical support. Transocean reported the fire earlier today on the rig, located approximately 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon block 252, saying that a "substantial majority" of the 126 personnel on board were safe, but some crew members remained unaccounted for. A number of personnel were reported to be injured. Further information: Office: BP press office, London Phone : +44 20 7496 4076
Tony Hayward's greatest hits
By Benjamin Snyder, contributorJune 10, 2010: 9:39 AM ET
FORTUNE -- BP chief executive Tony Hayward is a little bit like vice president Joe Biden -- get him in an unscripted moment, and there's no telling what words will fly. Just months after taking over as CEO from predecessor Lord John Browne, he called BP's performance "dreadful," causing shares to plummet. Three years later, with the Gulf Coast oil spill causing a public relations crisis, Hayward continues to make regrettable statements to the press. Perhaps the most cringe-inducing declaration was the one he made to reporters about how he'd like to have his life back. (He later apologized for that one.) The fact that he's British could very well be a contributing factor to his poor reception in the US. His "I'm a Brit, I can take it" mentality isn't always appreciated by Americans who expect a certain amount of humility from disgraced CEOs. Be prepared to laugh and cry. Here are Hayward's greatest gaffes over the past three years. January 13, 2007 In one of Tony Hayward's first interviews after being named head of BP (BP), he said, "leaders must make the safety of all who work for them their top priority." He continued, "My enduring priorities are, firstly, continued improvement in the safety of our operations all around the world." This pledge, directed at the 2005 explosion of a Texas refinery and the leak of an Alaskan pipeline in 2006, ironically remains eerily pertinent to BP's current issues. July 25, 2007 During his first month in charge after predecessor John Browne stepped down, Hayward reportedly said, "I'm Tony Hayward. John Browne was John Browne. I'll be me. There is not a lot more I can say." Hayward, tired of being asked how he'd do things differently from Browne said that these comparisons "are not helpful and frankly not relevant." September 25, 2007 In an internal memo sent to the company's officials, Hayward called the company's structure flawed. He even remarked that BP's performance was "dreadful," leading to a dramatic drop in the company's value. He further explained, "There is massive duplication and lack of clarity of who does what." Analysts saw this as an attempt to separate himself from former BP CEO Browne's leadership.
April 29, 2010 After the Gulf Coast oil spill occurred, The New York Times reported that Hayward said to fellow BP executives, "What the hell did we do to deserve this?" Environmentalists and the families who lost loved ones in the explosion could ask the same question. May 14, 2010 In one of his most famous gaffes, Hayward told The Guardian "the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume." With thousands of gallons pumping into the ocean every day, this small ratio of oil to water is taking a large toll. May 18, 2010 "I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest," Hayward told reporters. That same day, when asked about whether he was able to sleep at night in light of the oil spill's disastrous effects, he replied, "Of course I can." May 31, 2010 Hayward told reporters, "The first thing to say is I'm sorry." However, he continued, "We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused their lives. There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back." He might just get his life back soon enough. That is, if he's fired. Hayward said a couple of weeks ago, "I don't feel my job is on the line, but of course that might change." President Barack Obama recently told the Today Show's Matt Lauer that he would have fired Hayward by now. June 4, 2010 In his first interview with investors and analysts since the spill, the gaffe-prone executive didn't fail to deliver a one-liner for which he's become infamous. In response to his handling of the poor press, he said, "I'm a Brit, I can take it." This latest line won't improve his perception among Americans, or with anyone for that matter.
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