BP is buying Google PPC ads as part of its online reputation management plan - it's obviously desperate to cap the gallons of bad publicity that are pumping out into the news ocean.

It's a nice idea, but it seems to have been executed with an automaton with no idea about tone ...

If you search for oil spill, Google (in the UK) is currently showing news stories at the top of the results, followed by real-time results, which are mostly tweets being rude about BP.

The easiest way to get your message on top of all this is to buy an ad, which is what BP has done. Here it is (thanks to Sonia Rothwell for the tipoff):BP PPC advert

If you click on it, however, you go to this page - which appears to have been written by a robot versed in corporate speak.

Here's the page.

And here's the first story.

BP Announces First Payment on Barrier Islands Project for State of Louisiana. As part of the previously announced commitment to fund the entire $360 million cost of six berms in the Louisiana barrier islands project, BP today announced that it will make an immediate payment of $60 million to the State of Louisiana. In a letter to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and as previously announced, BP detailed its plans to make payments in stages based on the project's completion milestones.

Apart from the being the world's longest sentence, does this sound like a human talking to anyone? It's all very well having pictures of birds being cleaned up - but I'm not sure most people who click on the advert are going to go hang around on a page that makes no attempt to talk to them in normal language.

And when the link text says "Read the full press release", it makes it feel like they're just regurgitating corporate communications.

I think they need some tips from the spoof BP Twitter account.


Published 8 June, 2010 by Malcolm Coles

Malcolm Coles is Director at Digital Sparkle and a contributor to Econsultancy. He also blogs at malcolmcoles.co.uk. You can follow him on Twitter here.

16 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (5)


Kerry Gaffney

The perennial problem with corporate communications is that it tends to happen by committee, and the committee members tend to be people who see no skill in communication. That's how you end up with a page like that, which is so useless it might as well not exist..

Excellent idea on the Google Ads, that should be a standard tactic for any company going through a crisis but it has to be backed up with something more substantial than the usual corp-speak

about 8 years ago



Nice idea. Huge opportunity missed.

As Kerry comments, the whole point of crisis communications and using online marketing techniques in this way should surely be to manage the crisis in real time with empathy.

about 8 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

It shows there is nothing better than good content, no matter what the situation!

about 8 years ago


Ailsa McKnight, Senior Director at Ladbrokes

Probably the employee tasked with the campaign had a life to go back to and decided the corporate landing page would be good enough then went home. Nothing like strong leadership.

about 8 years ago


Emily Spicer

Why don't they just dump a bunch of cat litter?I know some shops use that to absorb oil.

about 8 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.