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BP's Green Brand Image Hit By Alaska Oil Spills.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on August 7, 2006

British Petroleum has done more to shift its Big Oil image to that of an eco-friendly energy giant than any other large oil company but it’s history of accidents and oil spills in the US is beginning to tarnish it brand. BP CEO John Browne deserves lots of praise for moving BP into solar and hyrodgen and for highlighting alternative energy in general. Yet, folks who’ve visited Alaska over the years know that BP has had another reputation—for accidental oil spills from the 800-mile trans-Alaskan pipeline. In March, an oil leak spilled over tundra and frozen lakes. It was caused by pipeline corrosion. Last year, a BP Texas refinery blast killed 15 people.

In this age of transparency and authenticity, it is important for brand image to match brand practice. You are what you do and what you make, not what good advertising makes you out to be. BP has had years to get its practice aligned with its image and now that practice is doing serious harm to its brand.

Many companies today are touting their “innovation,” and yet their products are anything but innovative. The public knows this—as measured by the declining market share of Detroit.

We all know what BP needs to do—accept responsibility, offer apologies, solve the problem quickly whatever it costs, and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Brands are fragile things. They can be eroded as fast as tundra melting under an oil spill.

Reader Comments


August 8, 2006 1:36 AM

There 'green' image is something of a relative nature. Ask the people involved with the H Street Main Street in the District of Columbia about BP's 'green' image. Despite strong lobbying from local businesses, the community, the Main Street group and politicians. BP was unwilling to create a model station that would serve as a gateway to the area and fit into the character of the streetscape. BP's 'green' image is convenient only for them. But if their community relations skills are any judge: they have a lot of work to do in bringing their PR image to all parts of their organization.


July 28, 2008 3:40 PM

It is really very nice article.I was searching on internet from long time.
Thanks for posting such a nice article.
Alaska Treatment Centers

George Philip

June 10, 2010 4:57 AM has a Eco friendly solution to clean up the tragedy British Petroleum has created, please watch the video animation: and pass this along to as many people as you know.

One person can still make a difference in this world, is that simple interactions have a rippling effect. Each time this gets pass along, the hope in cleaning our planet is passed on.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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