BP Turns to Political Shop for $50 Million Ad Buy to Convince You the Company ‘Will Get This Done’ and ‘Make It Right’

By Alex Pepper

Jun 4, 2010 10:41am

By now you’ve likely seen or heard BP’s new ad campaign — in newspapers, on radio, TV, and the internet — aimed at conveying to you that the company gets it. Independent analysts estimate the cost of the public relations and ad campaign as at least $50 million.

“The Gulf is home for thousands of BP employees and we all feel the impact,” BP CEO Tony Hayward says to the camera in the TV ad that launched Thursday. “To all the volunteers and for the strong support of the government, thank you. We know it is our responsibility to keep you informed and do everything we can so this never happens again. We will get this done. We will make this right.”

In the ad Hayward calls the oil spill “a tragedy that never should have happened.” He says the company “has taken full responsibility for cleaning up the spill in the Gulf,” says the company “will honor all legitimate claims, and our clean-up efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers. To those affected and your families, I’m deeply sorry.”

BP’s normal advertiser Ogilvy & Mather is not behind the ads. Instead, as was first reported by CNN’s Dana Bash, the team behind the campaign is Purple Strategies, helmed by Democratic political consultant Steve McMahon and Republican political consultant Alex Castellanos.

A source familiar with the campaign says BP officials are trying to convey that they’re very serious about doing the right thing, that they understand the magnitude of this tragedy, and that they know they’re responsible for making this right and they will. BP officials came to Purple Strategies last week — a little late, some might say — because company officials were concerned that the American people didn’t see all their effort because of all the critical negative attention.

Hayward is an interesting pick to serve as the face and voice of the company. Obviously, he runs the company, but he also has an upper-crust British accent and more importantly was quoted this week saying, “we’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.”

The CEO soon apologized for his remarks, calling them “hurtful and thoughtless,” but his regrets notwithstanding, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Hayward doesn’t need to be telling people in the Gulf that…he’d like his life back. There’s 11 people that we’d all like to have their lives back that were killed the very first night of this incident. And the harm that’s being done there will take years to fix. We will hold BP responsible throughout this process.”

-Jake Tapper

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