Suffering Through @BP_America’s Facebook Ad Campaign

Facebook Semantic Ad Failure Featuring @bp_america and @johnbell

Much has been made about BP’s questionable advertising campaign, from President Obama’s call out of the $50 million expenditure to ethical questions and search engine placements. Experiencing this inappropriate overspend on Facebook has been quite troublesome.

The above ad was served to me over Memorial Day weekend on Facebook. It clearly demonstrated that while Facebook is using my posts and links as a means to serve me ads, it doesn’t work. The ad features BP, a company I have been blogging negatively about for several weeks, and one of my local friendly competitors John Bell, head of Ogilvy 360 DC. John’s a good guy, but that isn’t going to sway me to support BP. Thus, Facebook privacy violations or not, the ad tech wasn’t smart enough to really work.

PastedGraphic-1.pngMy reaction, I clicked the ad to go away. When prompted for my reasons, I clicked on the offensive choice. Fast forward 10 days and I have been served the BP ad or a variant of it almost a dozen times. No matter how many times I click “offensive” or “misleading” the ad keeps coming back.

Facebook’s continuing disregard for its members is clear. And it makes me feel zero loyalty to the organization. AOL once thought it was undefeatable, but technologies and the Internet change. We know there’s no respect for privacy here, but if Facebook’s ad tech can’t even respect a user’s request, when a better, free solution comes movements will happen.

As to BP: No one believes this company any more. The spin has become too much. From what we were led to believe — the world’s most progressive energy company — to the factual reality, the world’s most irresponsible oil manufacturer; everyone sees a company shooting out hot air.

You can’t buy trust, especially once trust has been violated. The only way out of this for BP, again, is to fix the well, clean up the environment, take care of the damaged Gulf economy, and simply report progress using PR and social media sites. Aggressive claims of being moral and right will fall on deaf ears. Yet another communications gaffe for BP.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

Open Letter Encouraging @BP_America and EPA Employees


Barbara Newell contributed to this letter.

Top Kill has failed and we are looking at a high likelihood of two more months with an active oil spill (image from the Examiner). You – we all – are living a painful time. As hard as it is for those of us watching the nightmare unfold on our screens, it’s got to be extremely tough for you who are working for EPA, BP, or the vendors involved.

You’re decent people just like us, walking a very rough road right now, and I want you to know you’re not alone. I am sure you are as demoralized as I am. It breaks all of our hearts, making us upset as we contemplate the long term implications for our environment and the future.

I have a small inkling of how you might be feeling. I used to represent several defense manufacturers, and a tobacco company. I was not proud of this work, but I had to do it at the time. Sometimes I refused to admit my work to my friends. I was ashamed.

Our families rely on us to bring home a salary and health insurance. We can’t just quit working, even if we want to.

Many of us feel betrayed and lied to by our leaders. And we all are consumers of Big Oil. My wife and I try our best to make conscious choices, but we still drive cars (one is a hybrid). We ride in airplanes. We use oil to heat our home in the winter. We consume and need the products that you produce.

But we cannot just give a collective helpless shrug, look the other way and hope it gets better — somehow, someday. We must act.

We must support you, and you need to help us. Forgiveness is the only option. Your work today — not yesterday — is critical to our collective future. How can we help BP, and everyone who works there (or any oil company for that matter), to get things on the right track – in a real way, and not just for PR’s sake?

The country needs you to show up and do great work, and do so in a manner that places the environment and the general public interest first. That does mean going the extra mile, and sticking your neck out at times. Whether it’s having the courage to question a decision that doesn’t seem ethical, or simply asking for additional help, please step up and do your best.

Our priceless natural heritage and the future are hanging in the balance. I feel this more than ever, as my wife carries my first child. We need to work together to get ourselves out of this crisis.

P.S. Looking for ways to take action online? Check out this Huffington Post article providing details several different efforts, or donate to the National Wildlife Federation’s campaign to Help Wildlife Impacted by the BP Oil Spill (also my birthday campaign).

What Will Top Kill?


Thirty six days after the original Deep Horizon explosion and the beginning of the United States’ worst eco-crisis ever, BP will seek to end this oil spill nightmare with its two-day Top Kill procedure. The cement mud mix would effectively plug the well, the latest in many failed attempts to end the oil spill. In the latest effort to quell th spill and public dissatisfaction, BP will show the procedure live on video. But what remains to be seen is what will finally be killed, the oil spill or the last vestiges of public trust for BP and the Obama Administration’s crisis response team.

What BP Wants Us to Believe

One thing is certain, everything for BP and the Obama Administration is riding on Top Kill succeeding. If it doesn’t, the oil spill will continue for weeks on end, with no immediate back up plan announced by the oil company.

Public trust in BP, the Administration, and their various partners in this effort is close to (if not already) irrevocably tarnished by Deep Horizon. The crisis PR has been terrible with missteps on resolution, horrific transparency on possible solutions, false accounting of actual daily oil spill amounts, the policing of beaches to prevent media reporting, bickering between BP and the EPA, dispersants’ negative impact, a new climate bill that endorses further off-shore drilling, 19 new off shore drilling licenses since Deep Horizon, etc., etc., on and on.

What We Really Believe

Though BP has tried to address these issues, the end result has been public anger, and ridicule rivaling Jon Stewart. One must think Bush era Katrina FEMA officials and Exxon Valdez crisis communicators are relieved to see the grand scale of the Deep Horizon Laurel and Hardyesque bumbling and stumbling.

Unfortunately, the crisis PR probably cannot recover. The chance to save face was lost long ago.

The only thing that can end this is a swift conclusion to the oil spill, and then a much better job from all parties on recovery efforts, now and in the long term. So as Top Kill proceeds, it will surely end one thing — the oil spill — or another — any hope for BP and Obama EPA communicators ending this year on a happy note.

P.S. Generally speaking, the environmental blogosphere’s coverage of Deep Horizon has been apathetic and non existent. It’s been disappointing to have to go to CNN instead of my favorite green blogs for news and opinions. In fact, it’s been a failure in my mind of another kind, and it makes me wonder how serious the U.S. green movement is.

I do want to thank Joe Romm at Climate Progress for standing above the rest and rising to the occasion. Until BP successfully resolves this, we should follow Joe’s footsteps and cover Deep Horizon relentlessly.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.