Re-Branding the “BP Spill”


Part of the BP’s post-gusher public relations dance, which is probably more important than it initially seems, will be to re-name or re-brand the BP spill to something a bit less, well, accurate.

As we’ve seen over the years, oil companies don’t willingly accept ownership of their spills. We may call it the “Exxon Valdez spill” but, in the trade, that’s the Prince William Sound spill. The oil company PR machine correctly realizes that to “brand” and tie the spill to the company is harmful to both the long-term corporate image and (more immediately) to potential jury members. So they call well-meaning media types to explain that, after all, others are at least partially to blame, that it’s really unfair to the BP workers … whatever arguments seem to work.

So those keeping score at home can begin to appreciate how the “BP spill” morphs into something a little more removed from the oil giant. I’m guessing they’ll go for the “Macondo spill,” but it could be something more original. What I do know is the new brand will not include “BP.”

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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