By Noemi Pollack
The British should be familiar with parodies. After all they invented the form…
BP is ripe for mocking, as witnessed by the launch of the faux BP Twitter account, @BPGlobalPR, which already has outdistanced BP’s real Twitter stream, attracting nearly 60,000 followers, compared to the company’s 7,000 followers.
While it is true that the company’s real twitter account @BP_America offers continued updates about actions taken toward a solution of the international calamity, no one buys that the effort alone is commendable. And yet, in reading and watching all the hyperbole that the company puts out, all the gaffes made by its CEO and all the meager attempts at “talking” to a public through full page ads in the NY Times, daily, the company continues to exude a righteous behavior that is irritating and obnoxious, as well as arrogant and disdainful – certainly not characteristics that can endear a company to its many publics.
In the words of a tweeter, “The engineers (may) be busy but PR (folks) are (in) hiding.”
And so, while BP’s PR advisors seem to be AWOL, people turn to mocking.
It’s a real circus out there.
Twitterers are tweeting about the now “extinct mermaids” to the “sharks getting entangled in oil geysers” to changing the word catastrophe and agreeing to call it a “whoopsie daisy.” The faux account has sold “BP cares” T-shirts with the profits from the sales going to the nonprofit Gulf Restoration Network. Apparently its humorous blasts have been re-tweeted by everyone from filmmaker Michael Moore to singer Michelle Branch. And then there were preposterous headlines made by Kevin Costner and numerous TV appearances by Bill Nye, the Science Guy, the children’s show host who is apparently now an authority on the issue.
Apparently the faux twitter account’s fictional character “Terry” who has steadfastly remained in character, weakened and fell out of character when asked as to why this effort, to which he answered, “Companies screw up and then they hire folks like me to come in to make it look like they’re doing something while they figure out how to make money again.”
Well, there you have it – the public mocking of a company…
The curious thing is that according to a dialogue that Ad Age had with BP spokesman Toby Odone, he said that, “he wasn’t aware of any attempts by the company to have the feed taken down.” In playing the role of a real BP spokesman, the bogus one took the opposite stance – the one that the real BP should have taken in the first place by saying, “I’ve heard rumors of fake BP PR accounts, and I assure you if we find out who is in charge of them, we will annihilate them.” In further mocking the company, he added, “BP is doing everything we can to save our reputation and hopefully salvage some oil out of all this.”
Here’s advice for BP: hire the faux twitter account owner for advice as to next moves or push your PR folks out of hiding and make them unleash a PR campaign that is based on critical thought and one that is substantive…