Ballin’ It Up: BP’s Alternate PR Campaign

Apparently BP doesn't trust it's employees, or anyone else, to distinguish between these two logos.  Though the former is what happens when you dunk the latter into the Gulf.

This will be the first of what I am sure shall be a widely recurring column for Faination readers. Quick backstory: when I first started graduate school in Arizona back in the PT era (Pre-Twitter) some friends and I started using the term “baller” to reveal our opinion on all sorts of topics/ideas/people/etc. As time has gone on it has become a regular part of my vocabulary and that of others whom I have met over the years. Generally I have avoided giving a definition, preferring instead to let use create understanding. However, loosely defined “baller” denotes a sense of awesomeness; akin to “cool” or “boss” for our friends of the 1970s (though I have always felt this term should also make a comeback. That would be baller). Additionally to say someone is “balling things up” generally means they are being “baller” in their actions. Usually this is accompanied by a sense of telling it like it is or putting someone or something in their place, often with a healthy dose of humor thrown in.

Much of what I do academically, comedically, and socially is in the service of “balling things up.” As such it is only fair that I attempt to make it a regular occurrence here so that readers (if/when I obtain them) can better understand what it means to be “baller”, both as theory and application.

In this inaugural post I turn to an environmental crisis that is actually not baller: the ongoing BP/Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Long story short on April 20 an oil rig drilling more than a mile underwater ruptured, currently spilling thousands of gallons a day into the Gulf and beginning to reach land all over the place. Estimates on how much daily oil varies but the estimates keep climbing. It’s so bad that President Obama dedicated his first Oval Office Press Conference to addressing the issue. A sobering review of the spill can be found here , and pictures here . Not baller at all.

Now for the baller part. There is a new twitter account aimed at addressing the the massive PR storm. Only this one is balling up BP for real. I’m talking about @BPGlobalPR . Launched on May 19, this twitter account has been subtlely, yet brilliantly mocking the response by BP to the spill, as well as BP’s official twitter responding to the disaster.  Apparently it’s worked (or not depending on your opinion).  Not only has the fake BP twitter garnered over 165,000 followers in less than a month, it has also sparked the attention of both the  actual BP and Twitter who have asked a notification be placed on the account to key users in on its fake status.

Here is a smathering of some of the tweets placed by @BPGlobalPR that have the uptight polluters, who knew, so upset:

We’re paying Google a lot of money to make sure you only have access to the best possible info on the oil spill: our info.

Surprised ourselves by getting emotional on the coast today. Turns out the wind blew dispersant in our eyes #BPrebrand

In case you missed our latest magic show, we made a fire vortex on the water! Tada! #bpmagic

Will Twitter please shut down @BP_America – no one can tell if it’s a joke! #bprebrand

The last one is especially fun given the pressure applied by actual BP to help their image. However, here’s a thought. Rather than worry about what some dude is saying about your screw up to make a joke about the way you are handling it, HOW BOUT WORRYING ABOUT THE ACTUAL SPILL! It seems as though for a time @BPGlobalPR did bend to the pressure, instead of breaking from it like the actual PBP oil rigs. The satirical twitter did indicate that it was fake, but not before having the last laugh. @BPGlobalPR’s bio was changed to read:

We are not associated with British Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 51 days.

In the study of rhetoric a key element in the understanding of parody and satire is that the creator must give a clue, a small wink to let viewers know that they are being deceived. These winks are generally somewhat hidden, playing on the idea that people do not expect to be deceived so will not recognize the clues even if they are placed in front of them. Aside from that they may simply not get the joke. @BPGlobalPR seems to function with the former while @BP_America is clearly the latter. The twitter account has since changed its bio, this time to remove all literal indications that it is satire. Nevertheless, for technically bowing to the pressures of mighty BP, while simultaneously getting another well-deserved jab in at them in the process, I think @BPGlobalPR is an excellent choice for the inaugural Ballin’ It Up.


About Joe Faina

Rhetoric & Media Professor, Writer, Humorist

Posted on 06/17/2010, in Ballin It Up, BP, Corporate Screw Ups, Funny and Not Funny, Oil Spill, Satire. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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