Do People Hate BP?

BP says oil flow has stopped as cap is tested, although we're not sure when there will be a permanent solution. But even if they manage to stop the oil, can BP stop the hate?

Many people are certainly angry at BP. The Facebook Boycott BP page had 350,000 followers in early June and is now up to 825,000 people. BPGlobalPR, an adbusting on Twitter, has more than 186,000 followers. In New Orleans, there were many anti-BP t-shirts. British people we met in New Orleans were hiding their accent. William Wilson from Lincoln, England said this:

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Soon after the spill, BP began strategizing about a major ad campaign to convince the public that BP "will get this done" and "make it right". They have invested more than $50 million in their message. Down in the Gulf there is also a lot of media access to the places BP would like media to be. Is all this communication paying off?

A look at BP stock shows that their share price was up even before the cap was in place:

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Do people hate BP? Yes. Does it matter? It must. Most CEOs believe that corporate brand reputation outranks financial performance as the most important measure of a company's success. But this ideal is not necessarily mirrored by investors, particularly the batch of people (and there are many) who have recently invested in BP. To them, the potential of profit trumps public sentiment.

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I guess I should feel the hate, having recently bought some BP for my IRA. My own suspicions is that the corner has been turned on the Macondo spill. A lot of the emotional reaction strikes me as anthropomorphizing. Corporations aren't people. They follow an entirely different logic of behavior.

@BPGlobalPR on Twitter made an excellent point regarding brand reputation, in an interview with PBS at the TEDxOilSpill conference: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/environment/the-mystery-bp-twitter…

"But more importantly, in terms of corporate responsibility I hope this is a message to people that your brand does not belong to you. If people perceive you in a certain way, thereâs nothing you can do about that. Thereâs no amount of damage control you can do to help that. I hope that what it could ultimately lead to is actual corporate responsibility. Rather than covering your brand, you actually try to relate to people, see what people want and then hopefully make progress."

People in the Gulf hate BP, yeah. But we do not hate the British; that is a meme promulgated by British media. And we love British accents, so don't hide them. No offense, but many Brits do lousy American accents anyway (just as Americans mostly can't do British accents).

BP was a bad actor, thus the hate. By repeatedly flouting health and safety regulations, they have killed at least 25 Americans. But many people around here are employed by BP (my mother in Texas still draws a BP pension), so it's not like we want to see them driven out of business; we just want them to man up and make things right. So invest away, now's the time to get a good price, I would imagine.

Hmmm.... It seems to me as much anthropomorphizing to expect BP to "man up" as it is to "hate" them for the disaster they caused. Corporations are driven by the rules of business. BP cut safety corners and pushed schedules in the chase for profits. That has both its benefits and its costs. The problem is when the costs are born by third parties, as so amply demonstrated by the Macondo spill. In my view, it is foolish to expect that this can be corrected going forward by asking for better corporate behavior. (Where is the incentive? Measured in dollars? And how good do you think corporate memory is?) Or by industry self-policing. Before another deep-water well is dug in the gulf, we need real policing, in the form of stricter, mandated safety procedures, with real enforcement. Not the old MMS, which was the poster child for regulatory capture. Until that better regimen is in place, I'm happy to see the moratorium continued.

Yeah, that might have some short-term ill effect on my investments. But I'm also a gulf coast resident. My political stance is simple: this cannot be allowed to happen again.

I blame MMS, Ken Salazar, Obama, anyone else who permitted BP to drill there in the first place and yes, even BP itself for knowingly using crappy equipment. I'm still waiting for Atlantis to blow.

Is the CEO of BP headed for Jail? If you think about it, the CEO of Enron and Worldcom were nabbed but in their minds, they were doing what always made the company money. I think the comments from this blog have an interesting twist on this.

http://bit.ly/bQFHV8

I hate the very concept of corporations.

This said, BP is just supplying people with the stuff they value above the ecosystems of the GOM & the organisms that comprise it. Above seafood & above a day at the beach. Being able to keep a job by being able to drive to it is more important than anything else, apparently, so why reserve blame & hatred for those who make this possible? Why not hate the people in the plane flying over, the kid mowing the lawn with the power mower, the people in all the other cars in this traffic jam we're stuck in? Why not hate everyone caught up in this sordid petroleum dependency the world's developed? Why not hate ourselves?

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 20 Jul 2010 #permalink

I read that 39% of BP stock is owned by Americans. So we took a financial hit there as well. (Don't think I own any.)

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 20 Jul 2010 #permalink

BP started out as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) and was switched in 1935 was renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company(AIOC) then it became British Petroleum and, more recently, dropped the British appellation and became simply the initials BP. In other words, like most multinational mega-corporations, it is an extra-national entity.

As with any corporation it is a simple economic robot that has only one goal, profit. Presently it is focused on oil production but, if it sensed that it could make greater profits doing something else, it would, without hesitation, shift to any other activity. It has no ethics, morals, emotion or regrets. Its goal is to make more money and is deterred only by the prospect of making less.

IMHO it is impossible to love or hate such a machine. It certainly is incapable of loving or hating me back.

Is the CEO of BP headed for Jail? If you think about it, the CEO of Enron and Worldcom were nabbed but in their minds, they were doing what always made the company money. I think the comments from this blog have an interesting twist on this.

Placing excessive blame on BP doesn't strike me as the right strategy. After all, they are just producing the fuel our current economic structure requires.

Rather than blame specific companies, we need to finally get serious about abandoning fossil fuels entirely.

"No offense, but many Brits do lousy American accents anyway (just as Americans mostly can't do British accents)."

Brits speak at the front of the mouth, with the tip of the tongue and the teeth. Americans speak at the back of the mouth, almost swallowing the tongue. That's why they can talk while wearing a big open-mouth celebrity smile.

The aussie accent is done with the tongue down in the middle of the mouth, which is why aussies tend to pick up accents easily. But we do have trouble with heavily rhotic accents.

I never been a fan of any Oil Company, but I have particular disdain of BP with their Cavalier Attitude toward our environment.

"Brand" is a con comparing shite with shinola. The whole energy industry is a criminal act against humanity. Coal. Oil, Chemical lobbies run national policy and own the debate. Corporate zombie-personhood feeds off real people and the life of the planet. Call it Greenjesus, but it is always really a devouring monster.

with any corporation it is a simple economic robot that has only one goal, profit. Presently it is focused on oil production but, if it sensed that it could make greater profits doing something else, it would, without hesitation, shift to any other activity. It has no ethics, morals, emotion or regrets. Its goal is to make more money and is deterred only by the prospect of making less.

No, people don't hate BP. They "hate" BP, because the press and the US government tell them to.
It's typical leftwing anti-business sentiment and nothing more.
Same way people "hate" Microsoft but don't have a clue why (the reasons given are bogus and they know it as much as they know anything) or any other Big Evil Company.
Similarly there's people "hating" every other large company in the world. Pharmaceuticals? Sure, we "hate" them. Dow Chemical, "hated". GM, of course we "hate" them. Walmart, "hate" all over.
The list is sheer endless.

It's however not hatred, it's sheeplike flock mentality. Someone for political or ideological reasons villifies a company (or person) with lies, misinformation, and exagerations and hordes of people suddenly "hate" that company.

By J.T. Wenting (not verified) on 29 Jul 2010 #permalink

"No, people don't hate BP. They "hate" BP, because the press and the US government tell them to."

hmmm. i don't remember being told to hate BP. when were these orders issued ?

(but then again, i'm just a dumb ol sheep. baaa. baaa. oh how i wish there was some smart "conservative" around to tell me how to think. baaa.)

No reason to hate PB. This could happen to any company. Management should always put the interests of the company above the rest. In addition, the company is cooperating with the government and people.

When the corporations incited war for profit and killed innocent foreigners I said nothing, because I was a patriot.

When the corporations made medicine available only to the wealthy, I said nothing because I thought I was wealthy enough.

When the corporations pauperized the working class I said nothing because UI thought I was upper middle class.

When the corporations sent heavy manufacturing jobs overseas I said nothing because I was a white collar worker.

When the corporations poisoned the air and the water and the food, and
contaminated the future for generations to come.

... well, I'm sure the corporations have our best interests at heart.

Beware of wolves .... baaaaaaa.

I agree, no reason to hate PB.This could happen to any company. Management should always put the interests of the company above the rest. In addition, the company is cooperating with the government and people.