BP advertising budget exceeds $1 million per week

A wilted caricature of the BP corporate logo.

BP's image has wilted since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Does more than $1 million per week in self-serving advertising change that? (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Stig/Stig's Gallery of Corporations)

America wants to know that BP is doing everything in their power to atone for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. The average citizen wants to know that the corporate oil giant is using its resources to repair the catastrophic damage done to jobs, tourism and the ecological balance. According to the London Telegraph, however, BP is spending more than $1 million per week in corporate TV advertising alone. That may go a long way toward mending BP’s corporate image, but the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce committee is looking for more than that.

$1 million-plus per month for the past four months

BP has expressed its intention to cooperate with the demands of the House committee, yet no formal response has been issued. Without a written standard, BP’s spending on network TV, cable and radio advertising could continue to skyrocket. That’s money that could be spent cleaning animals and finding underwater oil plumes. Some advertising is necessary, but $1 million-plus per week may be the “top kill” of overkill. President Obama put it bluntly: “What I don’t want to hear is, when they’re spending that kind of money on their shareholders and on TV advertising, that they’re nickel-and-diming fishermen or small businesses here in the Gulf who are having a hard time.”

More advertising in the Gulf Coast region

Media Monitor indicates that BP’s advertising reached the greatest level of saturation in the Gulf Coast region where cities were directly affected by the oil spill. Five cities in Florida, including Miami and Fort Myers, were among the top 10 target areas for BP oil spill cleanup advertising. But when it comes to advertising, some members of Congress, such as Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida, believe that it’s fine for BP to advertise. However, the advertising should help steer tourism to Florida and the Gulf states, rather than focus on burnishing BP’s corporate image as a primary goal.

Controlling the flow of information

BP’s response to critics has been to reiterate that the purpose of its advertising is to assure Americans that the company plans to meet its commitments. It is assumed that those commitments are to service claims and keep up with the cleaning effort. However, any corporation the size of BP reached the peak of the mountain by keeping an eye on the bottom line. How a brand is perceived is vitally important to that line, so don’t expect BP to stop spending millions on self-serving advertisements unless Congress manages to shoehorn the disgraced giant into a confining set of orthopedic shoes with economically correct arches.



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