“OMG This isss ridciulsus. playing a drinking gamee where we drink a shot everytme we seeee an oily birdddd!!! LOL! so wasted!! #pbcares”

We are all laughing at the tweets BPglobalPR are broadcasting about BP. The oil company has become a complete joke… I didn’t catch the punch line though. There is nothing even remotely humorous about this oil leak catastrophe, but it does make a very illuminating case study of how quickly and completely people now have the ability to easily blacken your brand’s name, excuse the unfortunate pun…

BP and their sidekicks obviously created this whole incident with their environment-destroying incompetence, and this in itself is the very worst form of negative publicity. Nobody is going to like a company that so visibly destroys our planet. There was always going to be a mass public outcry to this disaster but what strikes me about this whole incident is how quickly the whole shape of BP as a Brand is now being molded by us, Joe Public. Their brand identity has now been placed very firmly in public hands and we are showing no signs of relinquishing control. Now, that’s power to the people in our social media age!

The amount of online content and the quantity of conversations being disseminated about BP through social media is immeasurable – quite frankly BP is huge, but not for the right reasons. Imagine if the following content was all positive…

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Greenpeace UK have launched a competition to find a logo to re-brand BP. Somehow their nice green flower doesn’t really cut it anymore. Have a look at all the entries here.

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As an oil company BP was never going to be a brand you love for being all warm, fluffy and green. But with the no doubt millions of dollars being spent on advertising, they tried to come across as a friendly company who listened and were forward thinking with regard to the environment…

What would I ask an oil company? Not to leak millions of gallons of oil into the ocean for a start. In all seriousness, any advertising BP has ever done, and probably will do in the foreseeable future, is going to be scoffed at. Exactly like this…

Quite clearly, it doesn’t matter what you say or have said in the past, your actions shout a lot louder. And when everyone around the world is shouting very loudly about your actions, then anything you say in response is going to be completely and utterly redundant. BPglobalPR has over 10 times the number of followers on Twitter (102,734 and growing) as the official BP Twitter account, BP_America (9,106). This is a very clear example of the power we, the consumers, have in influencing what people learn and feel about a brand. These tweets are all farcical, but if more people are reading the farce rather than the reality, then what packs more of a punch?

BP has become somewhat of a swear word and is now synonymous with oil spill. A web developer, jess3, has even created a Firefox Plugin that splashes a bit of oil on every mention of BP on the web. You install the add-on in your Firefox browser and it blacks out all of the following words: BP, British Petroleum, Transocean, Gulf Oil Spill, and Deepwater Horizon. If you don’t want to see any mention of this brand then you don’t have to, you have control over how content about BP is displayed to you.

BP has become one of the most popular topics of conversation online, and social media has massively stoked the fires of these conversations. This is the thing about social media, there will always be conversations, whether your brand is involved and responding or not, but these conversations have taken on a whole life of their own. Social Media has effectively re-branded, re-shaped, and re-created BP so that everything we now read about this oil company is of our own creation. If you ever needed any more evidence of the potency Social Media conversations have then look to the recently re-branded BP: Big Problem.

UPDATE – 3rd June 13.05

We’ve just come across this blog post from Leroy Stick… the man behind @BPGlobalPR… posted the same day as our blog.  I encourage you to read what he has to say, he raises some incredibly valid points.

If you are in the position to then please buy a BP cares tee-shirt as all proceeds go to www.healthygulf.org.  Hopefully they’ll be Gorilla sized shirts for us.

“You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand?  Have a respectable brand.  Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions.  Lead the pack!  Evolve!” Leroy Stick