Ad Title: “A Message from Tony Hayward”
Agency: Purple Strategies
BP’s (BP) $50 million ad blitz to improve the company’s image two months after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded was a colossal failure.
Crisis communications require a certain finesse — that’s why BP bypassed Ogilvy & Mather, its agency of record, and opted for political heavyweight Purple Strategies. But time is a critical component of success, and the apology ads began airing six weeks after the disaster killed 11 workers and began spewing 100,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico.
Another misstep: the choice of BP CEO Tony Hayward, who just days earlier had muffed an apology for the “massive disruption” the spill caused by saying “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.” The spots further enraged Gulf Coast residents, who would rather have seen that $50 million channeled into cleaning up the spill, rather than trying to buff up BP’s tarnished image.