I consider myself lucky that during my three and a half years in Tallahassee, the city wasn’t struck by any hurricanes or tornadoes. But during that time, a great tragedy did strike Florida and the other states along the Gulf of Mexico: the BP oil spill in 2010. At the time, I was an intern at The Zimmerman Agency, and most of the clients I worked with were hotels along the Western Florida coastline, so a lot of my work revolved around driving back tourism to the area because people were afraid to get in the water (myself included, I did not go to the beach until September of that year). All BP gas stations in Tallahassee closed, and they remained close when I moved away in May. The impression was very much that even after two years the city had not forgiven BP.
The Olympics rally people together, and BP is counting on those feelings of unity and national pride to rub off on their brand. The commercial goes for a “we are all in this together” vibe, showing athletes who have overcome physical limitations and proclaiming “They stand together for us all.”
The discussion on the BP Team USA Facebook page seems for the most part positive (though the same cannot be said for the main BP America Facebook page), and the only public backlash to the campaign has happened in London, where some of the outdoor advertising has been vandalized. It seems that teaming with the US Olympic team was a good choice for BP.
Do you think that BP has successfully turned a new leaf with America with this campaign? Can a brand’s reputation ever fully recover from a major setback like the oil spill?