Like millions of Americans, I am by the pipeline cam and its streaming video of raw oil billowing into the gulf. Sadly, I know that the gulf will not recover from this disaster in my lifetime, but I think BP as a company has a less certain future. Can they whether this nightmare or is this the beginning of the end? I have heard on Marketplace that the company has deep enough coffers that they should be able to endure the negative PR, low stock quotes and pretty much anything the American government throws their way, in essence this is actually an opportunity for the company to become more lean and focused.
But, image is everything. And according to a recent article in Advertising Age, “… 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.” (June 7, 2010).
Brunswick has some heavy hitters on the team, who have carved out a niche for themselves in managing rather impossible public relations campaigns including foreign policy during the Iraq war under the Bush administration and PR for the department of treasury during the economic crisis in 2009. The company also has a track record helping corporations through crisis communications, including Owens Corning’s asbestos and bankruptcy issues, Gap’s child-labor issue and Gillette’s litigation issues.
So much will depend on this PR campaign, it could be the tipping point that changes global energy policies or it could dissipate into a collective blind-eye (along the lines of Shell’s environmental impact in the Niger Delta). Either way, as a marketing specialist, it is a very exciting time to watch this global player.