Global environmental challenges
Are Americans bullying BP?
With all the comparisons to the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989, there’s at least one arena where BP appears to be head and shoulders above its oil-spill predecessor — suffering public mockery.
They can thank the age of social media.
There’s the fake Twitter account, BPGlobalPR, posing as the public relations mouthpiece for an arrogant powerhouse. Today it tweeted its 184,466 followers: “Attention lazy fishermen! If you won’t clean our mess, we’re taking your money. Fair is fair.” They also produced this fake press conference.
YouTube, not around in 1989, is brimming with satirical videos targeting BP. There’s BP spills coffee, now at more than 9 million views. Spoof ads are also hot contenders for “viral” status: Oil is natural and the slickly produced BP Bringing People Together are two of the more popular.
Are Americans being too hard on the company? The spill in the Gulf of Mexico has so far cost the company $3 billion in clean-up costs. On a daily basis, BP repeats its commitment to taking full responsibility and will pay for all legitimate claims.
But the public is ruthless, and a question emerges, are critics hiding behind the anonymity of the blogosphere?
Earlier this week, the UK’s Metro unleashed this doozie: a rare, early 1970s board game called “Offshore Oil Strike” produced by BP and partner Printabox where tycoons compete at exploring for oil and avoid hazard cards which threaten rig blowouts and oil spill costs. No joke, although an odd self parody given the current situation.
The late Texan columnist Molly Ivins wrote, “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.”
Is that what BP is now enduring? Intellectual egg tossing by people with no power?
Photo shows a protester holding a syrup covered plastic earth ball to protest against the BP oil spill on the North side of the White House in Washington June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Larry Downing