BP has been an interesting brand that I have watched over the past few years because they have been able to get and keep the coveted position of the most green petroleum company. They did it by running a series of what I think are the most effective greenwash campaign ever since the ads never really said anything. The TV spots would feature a talking head where Joe Average would talk about what they would like to see energy companies doing in the future followed by a semi-generic line about what BP was doing to help make this happen. It all sounded good enough as long as you didn’t scratch the surface to see things like BP was spending around 20 million on solar research while spending around 200 million to launch their new logo.
BP has now launched a new campaign is based in an alternate universe populated by illustrated inhabitants including multicultural babies, Beeps (BP gas station attendants), a family in their minivan and a guy in his convertible with his dog.
The point of all of this is two fold – to hype their environmentalism and to announce that their gas station will be cleaner and thus “A Little Better Gas Station”. These overly cute and large headed creations seem to try to play to the toys of our youth but they leaves me feeling more cynical and guarded than usual since BP has resorted to babies and puppies as their pitchmen. For me it hits lose to the recent trend I have railed against where advertising either talks down to or tries to brush past consumers and their concerns.
In this case, it feels like they are brushing past the issue that they are making record profiles while we pay through the nose and we are supposed to accept the core concept, which mainly surfaces in their TV commercials, that we all should be happy about this because they decided to mop the floor of their gas stations. This seems like one of those things that sounds good in a board room when you are pitching the idea but it falls apart for the consumer when the gas stations are asked to execute the concept and they can’t deliver on the ad’s promise. I think it will be interesting to see how long this less green and more sickeningly cute direction holds up in today’s climate where companies like BP are in everyone’s crosshairs – but then again you can never under estimate the power of puppies and babies.