BP Launches Propaganda Blitz

About 20 months ago, the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers and releasing over 200 million gallons of oil. The biggest offshore oil spill in US history, it seriously damaged ecosystems and caused health problems from chemical dispersants. The responsible thing for a company to do would be to own up to the oil spill, and continue to express regret for the damages caused by it. Not BP, the company that bills itself as “beyond petroleum.” Right before Christmas, BP launched an advertising campaign that touts the Gulf as the place to travel to.

One of the ads launched by BP aims to boost tourism by appealing to Americans to “help make 2012 an even better year for tourism.” Tourism has lagged since the oil spill, so the ad must be welcomed by Gulf residents. Not really. The head of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, called the ad, “BP propaganda.”

Aaron Viles of the Gulf Restoration Network said, “They might not blatantly lie in the ad, but the true story is far less shiny, and far more troubling.”

Viles said that the oil spill may have caused shrimp harvests and abnormalities in killifish, a minnow, to increase. “BP needs to put these facts in their ads,” Viles said.

A.C. Cooper, a shrimp fisherman in Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, said, “They (BP) make it sound like they’re doing a lot, but they’re not doing much to help the fishermen out … I got good fishermen struggling to pay their bills right now.”

“The numbers on our shrimp are way down,” Cooper said.

Cooper added, “They talk about areas being all open. There are areas that are still closed.”

A federal ban on fishing includes one-third of the Gulf, and economic damage from the oil spill is projected to be $15-$60 billion over the next 20 years. Considering that seafood is a $3 billion industry in Louisiana, and produces 30 percent of the domestic seafood in the U.S., having part of the Gulf closed to fishing is a real hardship.

“They should be a little more apologetic and less triumphant,” said George Crozier, an oceanographer and former director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama.

BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said the ad campaign highlights “facts” and not “anecdotes.”

“We’re honoring our commitment here in helping promote the Gulf Coast and Gulf seafood and doing our best to help the region recover,” Mueller said. “As Iris says in the ads, we have more work to do, and BP as a company fully recognizes that there is more work to be done.”

Perception is king, and the criticism leveled at the ad campaign shows that Gulf residents perceive the ads to be propaganda. Since many Gulf fisherman are struggling it seems that the money spent on an advertising blitz would be better spent helping out those fishermen. That might even help restore BP’s tarnished image.

Photo credit: Flickr user, Futureatlas

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

5 responses

  1. As someone who lived in Grand Isle, La. for 13 years prior to the BP CRIMES and worked in the seafood industry for 7 of those years, including during the BP CRIMES, I can tell you that EVERYTHING you hear from the news media and EVERY PROPAGANDA advertisement BP is putting on are OUTRIGHT LIES.  PEOPLE ARE SICK AND GETTING SICKER.  PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT SICK ARE BECOMING SICK.  BP HAS NOT MADE ONE DAMNED THING RIGHT.  They’ve covered up the oil, they’ve sunk the oil and they’ve paid off the media and politicians.  All this money going to “Gulf Restoration and Recovery” will be filtered from one form of BUREAUCRACY TO ANOTHER until NOTHING remains for RECOVERY AND RESTORATION.  The BIGGEST TRAGEDY in all of this is BP’S GRANT to the LA. SEAFOOD AND PROMOTION BOARD OF THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS so that they can PAWN POISONED SEAFOOD onto the AMERICAN PUBLIC for the sake of the almighty dollar.  I LIVED ON THE BEACH.  I WATCHED AS LOADS OF SAND WHICH WAS COMPLETELY UNLIKE THE RIVER SEDIMENT which made up our Grand Isle beaches was DUMPED over the OIL, TAR BALLS, ETC.  I lost my job after seven years because of these CRIMINALS AND CROOKED POLITICIANS!  I now live on the East Coast of Florida and fight every day to bring the truth out.  The Coast Guard was and still is not working for us during the spill.  Dead adult dolphins and baby dolphins are still washing ashore all along the Gulf Coast.  Deformed fish and shrimp are being harvested to this day.  My husband is a commercial king mackerel fisherman and reef fisherman.  We could not, in all good conscience harvest and sell that poison.  Every person involved in this  CRIME against the people of AMERICA, including FILTHY POLITICIANS should be prosecuted as TRAITORS.

  2. The money spent on this ad campaign could have gone to ongoing oil mitigation in Louisiana’s marshes. Marshes that are still feeling oil impacts. However, the Coast Guard over rode Louisiana’s objections to vaulting the oil clean-up and sided with BP. Now, U.S. taxpayers will have to pay for ongoing oil detection and monitoring in the wake of BP’s attempt to lessen their liability. The oil is still here and so are we. Unfortunately, BP has cut and run.

  3. This issue goes deeper than BP. The USCG was to oversee this monumental recovery effort. They are military- so who is giving them all their orders? They are following specific directives here.    The EPA seems to have failed in upholding their mission statement as seen on their website: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/whatwedo.html   
    It appears that Congress abandoned all of us along the Gulf too. 
    The trillions of dollars from oil is greater than all the dead things in the Gulf, failing businesses, polluted waters/land not to mention the human devastation of sickness, cancer and death. We need to demand that IF they are going to DRILL, then they better PAY THE BILL. To simplify~  Oil + Government > Precious Resources and Human Life

  4. BP and all of it’s ads proclaiming “recovery” are a crime in progress. Where is accountability? Where is prosecution? If a foreign country came over here and poisoned our water, air and food resources, it would be a cause for war.  
    If BP does it, it is just business as usual, profit before people!

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