BP’s Olympic Ads Seek To Erase Oil Spill From Memory

YouTube

BP may not be top-notch at preventing huge, toxic oil spills, but the company is certainly PR-savvy.

In this spring’s run-up to the Olympic games, London 2012 organizers announced that BP would be a main sponsor of the event—specifically, a “Sustainability Partner” helping to create the “greenest Games ever.” The enviro community balked at the move, launching campaigns, circulating videos, and pranking high-profile orgs to underscore the irony. But to little avail, it seems: Despite the controversy, a survey published this week shows that the oil and gas giant’s Olympic ads seem to be rekindling the public’s BP love.

Of all the main Olympic sponsors, BP went into the games dead last in brand perception ratings—in fact, it was the only company with a rating in the negative numbers, according to the survey from YouGov BrandIndex. Now, with ads on billboards and television (see below), BP has catapulted from a -5.9 perception rating to a 2.6, a massive jump rivaled only by Visa. And that’s among the US population specifically, since all of YouGov’s survey respondents were US adults:YouGov G BrandIndexYouGov G BrandIndex

Part of BP’s massive Olympic ad effort is “BP Team USA,” a group of nine US Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls serving as the brand’s athlete ambassadors. Two of the team’s members—track and fielder Sanya Richards-Ross and swimmer Rebecca Soni—have already brought in three gold medals and a silver, likely further boosting the hunky-dory US attitudes towards BP at the games.

Also notable: A couple of those BP Team USA ads are grouped on its YouTube channel under the title “Overcoming Setbacks.” An admirable athletic sentiment, sure, but an ironic one when employed by a company that’s using these ads—and the athletes in them—to fix its own “setbacks.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.