BP tries to plug Florida gusher – not oil but advertising money

Florida governor Charlie Crist and state agency Visit Florida are demanding another $50m from stricken oil giant BP to persuade potential tourists that it’s business as usual on his state’s white beaches.

But BP, which has coughed up $25m already, says that’s enough although it’s willing to look at individual resort cases, some of which have already received around $2m.

You can see BP’s point; if Florida’s OK (and doubtless there are bits that aren’t) then $25m (including a nice Bob Marley soundtrack) should have been enough to get the message across.

Even the famous giant grouper, a notoriously hard to please fish when it comes to clean water apparently, is said to be thriving 15 miles off the Florida coast.

But governor Crist has an election to fight soon and that’s emerging as BP’s biggest problem (apart from all that escaped oil of course). The perception in the US seems to be that the best way to win votes in the forthcoming mid-term elections is be the toughest candidate on BP. Even president Barack Obama seems to be taking this line.

BP isn’t helping its case by spending millions on its own advertising in the US. You can see why it thinks it needs a loud voice and the only way it’s going to get one at the moment is by paying for it.

But sometimes a bit of penitent silence can speak louder.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.