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Jun. 6 2010 - 1:47 pm | 612 views | 0 recommendations | 5 comments

BP tries to rename oil spill

GULF OF MEXICO - MAY 28:  CEO of BP Tony Haywa...

BP CEO Tony Hayward. Image by Getty Images North America via @daylife

In its $50 million advertising campaign, BP is trying to make sure the disaster currently unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico does not go down in history as the “BP Oil Spill.”

In BP’s preferred parlance, the spill is called the “Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill” or the “Deepwater Horizon Incident.” However, people are googling “BP oil spill” more often than either of those terms.

So BP’s advertising budget includes paid placement at the top of Google and Yahoo search-result pages with the following message: “Info about the Gulf of Mexico Spill. Learn More about How BP is Helping.”

“Helping” seems an unusual verb for BP’s still-unsuccessful effort to halt the still-unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, BP denied fault for the spill, blaming the drilling platform’s owner, Transocean Ltd. BP was leasing the platform from Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling and oil exploration company.

“We are responsible not for the accident, but we are responsible for the oil and dealing with it and cleaning it up,” BP CEO Tony Hayward told ABC News on May 3.

BP still avoids admitting fault but has “taken full responsibility” and promised “to make this right,” Hayward says in a new video released as part of its television advertising campaign (video below).

BP’s Google ads include a link that points to the company’s “Gulf of Mexico response” page. The White House continues to refer to the disaster as the “BP Oil Spill.”

Today, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen had more dramatic language for the containment and clean-up effort: “This is a war, it’s an insidious war, because it’s attacking, you know, four states one at a time, and it comes from different directions depending on the weather.”

Hayward’s apology:

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    Environmental reporting recruited me 25 years ago—on my first day as a reporter for my college newspaper, when I discovered my college was discarding radioactive waste in the regular city trash. Since then I've written hard news for dailies, including the Arizona Republic, and slanty news for alternative weeklies, including Newcity. I've written a column for New Times, stories on the Web for Forecast Earth, essays for PEN International and other magazines. I lived in an idyllic California village nestled among volcanoes and vineyards until my batteries were full of sunshine, and then I returned to my origins on the South Side of Chicago, where hope persists with no illusions about the struggle ahead. I cross the asphalt jungle by bicycle and el, mostly to get to the University of Chicago, where I teach journalism. But what matters more than any of this is a lifelong love for the natural world. We are all born with it, I believe, but some turn away.

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