Protecting and Promoting the Brand After a Public Relations Fiasco, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Proposal

The paper presents the marketing strategies used by BP in protecting and promoting its brand after suffering negative publicity due to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The aim of this paper is to identify the strategies that the firm can use to regain customer loyalty and confidence, and the repositioning strategies that BP can use re-brand the firm’s products. The paper also tries to identify the repositioning strategy, which would help promote the brand via positive public relation campaigns.

Introduction

Marketing is a fundamental aspect to prosperous companies such as BP and other companies. Even though BP is a large company in the oil industry, it is no exception to conducting marketing activities. It is indeed indispensable for a firm to revise its marketing strategies constantly in order to live. In the case of BP, it is noteworthy that after the tragedy of oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, financial and non-financial losses to the company accrued. This shows that it is necessary for the company to review, and update its marketing strategies. Therefore, the company should tailor its marketing strategies towards protection and promotion of brand in response to the encroaching negative publicity.

BP’s strategy

It is the pertinent to note that the amount of environmental damage destroyed the company’s brand image. This made some customers avoid the products of BP in the US market. The consumption patterns of people changed in the energy industry market. This is important to a concern over the sustainability of the future (Tanne and Raymond, 2010). The company responded to the spill by setting up a fund of $20 billion to compensate the affected population. This was only after the deep-water horizon disaster, and due to immense legal and political pressure by the US government, and the local authorities especially in Louisiana. However, this fund has received criticism from many judges and lawyers who claim that the fund is not acting on neutral grounds (Guardian.co.uk, 2010).

It is evident that the oil spill had a negative impact on BP’s reputation, especially in regions where people’s lives were affected both directly and indirectly. The oil spill resulted into loss of many jobs and decline in business sectors such as tourism, fishing, and other industries. This sent the company to engage in many promotional activities that recapture the confidence of consumers in the US market.

Following the oil spill, BP spent more than $93 million on TV sports and newspaper advertisements. In this regard, the company paid out three times on advertisement compared to the previous year (Guardian.co.uk, 2010). The company also enhanced its marketing strategies in newspapers during the same period. The advertisements increased to 17 states-up from just two states the previous year. The primary aim of the company was to inform the public on its quest to clear the mess. It is important to note that this includes the process of compensating oil spill victims. All these advertisements provided a strong ground for BP to protect and promote its brand after the public relations fiasco. According to BP’s spokesperson, Scott Dean, running the advertisements helps the company to be transparent on what they are doing. Such activities used by the firm will enable the company to protect their company and brand name.

Even though BP has positioned itself as a socially responsible corporation, the recent environmental catastrophe made many people have doubt on intent of the company. Therefore, they suggested that the company is not conducting business in ways that will protect both the environment and people. Despite the company’s initial branding strategy as a socially responsible company, it has had remarkable success. It seems it lacks correspondence with BP’s record. The corporation has been criticized for oil and propane gas price manipulation, environmental violations, falsifying inspection reports, safety violations, hazardous substance dumping, and environment-degrading practices such extraction of from Canadian oil sands and the recent oil spill (Kotler, 2006).

Despite the firm’s successful brand positioning and strategy, BP has not delivered on the promise of its brand internally. In the renewable energy sector, the company only dedicated 4 per cent of its exploratory budget on renewable energy. This was a move in the right direction in that a substantial amount though not sufficient enhanced the company’s attempt to go beyond petroleum (Guardian.co.uk, 2010). In the Second Quarter Results for FY2010, BP reported that integrity management, injury frequency, and major accidents substantially decreased. This occurred successively in the years 2000, 2004, and 2008 respectively (BP, 2010). Despite these efforts, BP’s overall operations still centered on oil production, which is a major contributor to human health dangers and climate change.

The initial response by BP to the oil spill was to downplay the damage, by reporting that only 1,000 barrels per day of oil spilled into the Gulf. Later, they reported 1,000 and 5,000 following the discovery of a separate 5,000 barrel-per day spillage (Guardian.co.uk, 2010). This compromised the credibility and trust at the start, thus, leaving the public skeptical of future statements. The statements made by BP’s CEO Tony Hayward also made contradictions, making the motives of the company appear insincere, dubious, and out of touch. There have been efforts to down play the oil spill with media coverage concentrating on positive developments in the clean up and compensations.

The company pledged $500 million over a ten-year period to the Gulf Research Institute in order to research and assess the extent of environmental impact of the spill on the Gulf. Therefore, they provided grants amounting $170 million to the states of Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama in a bid to mitigate the economic impacts of the spill (BP, 2010). In addition, BP established a charitable fund of $100 million to the unemployed (BP, 2010). All these efforts adopted by BP have put the company on the right direction to re-establish a dwindling brand value. Nevertheless, the company still needs to reconcile the need to spread the message of their efforts with the need to avoid the appearance of green washing.

BP started using social media seven days after the spill to highlight about its efforts to control the spill. This triggered their pointing out another mistake on their part in the early days of the crisis. This gave BP an impression of not valuing its stakeholders enough to communicate with them. The company’s social media presence played a pivotal role in making the company proactive. Moreover, the initial social media responses played a critical role in charting the course of the company. The company’s later aggressive focus on social media has been perceived as a good effort in restoring brand of BP. This gives the company human face as compared to  use of traditional PR tactics. BP achieved a relatively decent job through the social network by exuding transparency through the provision of detailed information about the clean-up process, and updates on efforts to the public. This also includes availing contact information to the social media network to help in efforts to recruit volunteers and save wildlife.

Conclusion

In response to BP after the oil spill, protecting and promoting the brand of the company after the public relations fiasco requires more than simply telling the positive aspects of the firm. The company has not put effort in green advertisement campaign to regain customer confidence. Caring more for the environment can help the company to rebrand the gigantic corporation that faced negative publicity resulting from the oil spill. BP’s public relations activities after the spill have worked well for the company to reposition itself in the market as an environmentally friendly organization.

References

BP sustainable review. (2010). ww.bp.com/…/bp…2010/…/bp_sustainability_review_2010.pdf

Guardian.co.uk. (2010, July 18). BP oil spill: failed safety device on Deepwater Horizon rig was modified in China. Retrieved from Guardian.co.uk: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/18/deepwater-horizon-out-preventer-cina

Kotler, P. (2006). Marketing management, 12th Ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Tanne, J. and Raymond, M.A (2010). Principles of marketing. Flatworld Knowledge

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