BP oil spill – who cares?

The spotlight this week is firmly on BP, or BRITISH petroleum as our friends from across the pond like to refer to them.  We know all the headlines, the personalities and some of the more outlandish opinions out there (including some Americans demanding an apology from the queen!) but what really motivates us in this time of crisis, sharing woes or sharing shares? Profiteering or volunteering?  Is the world watching or just the west?  When did it turn from oil spill to BP kill!?  Who’s winning the online mind war? The answers are all in search.

When did BP get the blame and who cares?

Play the above video to show searches for “BP” on Google from March up until last week .  The bluer the country gets, the more searches there are for BP.

Two things strike me about this video.  Firstly, only ‘western countries’ are still interested in the BP aspect of the spill with interest from Russia, India and China quickly waning.  It’s a little bit like a playground fight between the US and UK with a lot of other countries crowding around initially to see what’s going on and then only close friends remaining as the other countries realise it’s just going to descend into name calling and possibly girly slaps rather than the all out nuclear war they’d secretly hoped for.

The second thing that strikes me is the delay from oil spill to BP bashing.  A full two to three weeks before the US starts to pulsate like an angry blue (black) jellyfish with searches for BP.  My theory is (and do keep in mind that it’s midnight and I’ve been working in the sun all day) is that we’re seeing the five stages of grief in action on a country-wide scale.  After initial denial, there comes the anger which is what we’re seeing two weeks after the spill date manifested as searches for BP (this will presumably be followed by bargaining, depression and finally acceptance so look out for a sharp rise in the numbers of people searching for ‘BP is nice’ in about 12 months time).

Are Americans profit hungry vultures or altruistic idealists?

The chart below shows searches in the US since the disaster.  The Red line shows  people searching for things like “volunteer to clean up oil spill” and the blue line shows people searching for “BP shares” presumably a large proportion of these are people wishing to cash in.  Kerrching!

The chart in summary shows most Americans initial concerns are to help clean up the oil spill which kind of gives you a lot of hope for humanity and in fact, it’s not until mid June that people start to think ‘hey, I could make some money off of this maybe’ but of course by then it’s too late and the blue bump at the beginning of the timeline has already short sold its way into millions.  Wonder if Tony had a position on that one?

Why not cheer yourself up and read about other cheery subjects on this blog or try your hand at making one of those fancy search video things featured in this one?  There’s also this excellent site that lets you put the oil spill over your current location in Google maps so you get an idea of the size of the thing and an excellent post about their PR strategy.

2 thoughts on “BP oil spill – who cares?

    1. I think you’re right, they’ve exported a sophisticated offline reputation management campaign and tried to squeeze it into online where it simply doesn’t work as many large corporations do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s