BP's Gulf Ad Campaign is "Propaganda", Locals Say

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The destructive impacts of the BP Gulf spill continue on today. Ecosystems have been damaged, fishermen's take is down, and some Gulf residents are still burdened by health woes thought to be caused by evaporating oil and chemical dispersents. The true fallout of the catastrophe has not yet been accurately quantified, and there are still lingering questions about the damage done to marine habitats and human health.

Nonetheless, the oil giant responsible for the calamity is ready to paint over all of that pesky fact-based stuff. BP has, over the last couple of weeks, rolled out a huge new ad campaign whose chief aim seems to be say: "Look! All better!"

Majestic images of clean beaches, vibrant mangroves, happy fishermen, and booming trade grace the spots. But it turns out that the people those ads purport to be portraying aren't quite so enthused about the way things are going.

Here's the Associated Press:

Nearly 20 months after its massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill — and just as Americans focus on New Orleans, host of the college football championship game — BP is pushing a slick nationwide public relations campaign to persuade Americans that the Gulf region has recovered. BP PLC's rosy picture of the Gulf, complete with sparkling beaches, booming businesses, smiling fishermen and waters bursting with seafood, seems a bit too rosy to many people who live there. Even if the British oil giant's campaign helps promote the Gulf as a place where Americans should have no fear to visit and spend their money, some dismiss it as "BP propaganda."

Exhibit A:
"'I'm glad to report that all beaches and waters are open for everyone to enjoy!' BP representative Iris Cross says in one TV spot to an upbeat soundtrack. 'And the economy is showing progress, with many areas on the Gulf Coast having their best tourism season in years.'

Reality:
All beaches and waters? Open again? Why, that is good news. Or it would be, if it were true. Here's MSNBC:

"They talk about areas being all open. There are areas that are still closed," said A.C. Cooper, a shrimp fisherman in Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana. He listed some bays and fishing spots that he says the state still has closed due to oil contamination. "It's bogus, it's not the truth." He added that last fall's shrimp harvest was dismal. "The numbers on our shrimp are way down," he said.
Looks like there wasn't enough room for a true depiction of the spill's impacts in the happy-go-lucky 30 second commercial spots. Gulf fishermen, employees in the tourism industry, and members of local environmental groups have all decried the ad. They're not completely lying outright, they say, and businesses are thankful for the support, but they're painting a false picture. Read the AP's full story for more examples of the sentiment around the Gulf – this one pretty much sums them up:

"When you have a lot of money, you can pretty much get any point across," the local resident Clint Guidry told the AP. "It's kind of like indoctrination."

Tags: Conservation | Gulf Oil Spill | United States

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