As someone who grew up in the Florida panhandle, I viewed the entire BP oil spill disaster with more than just mere distaste. I viewed it as an assault to my home, my memories, and to some of the most beautiful beaches around.
I visited Pensacola Beach in the summer of 2010, just a few months after the disastrous event. Telltale signs of the oil spill were everywhere. Docked in Pensacola was a huge contraption, what appeared to be an oil-removal system. It was a sobering symbol of the spill. The Escambia County Health Department posted signs at the beach warning beachgoers of tar balls and more. From atop a lighthouse, we saw oil booms and rigs galore. The fresh fish and seafood I so longed to eat was in short supply, thanks to the oil spill.
Tourism, along with the commercial fishing industry, is the Gulf Coast’s lifeblood, particularly in Florida. According to an analysis by Oxford Economics, the BP oil spill is projected to impact Gulf Coast tourism for at least three years, and cost the region $22.7 billion.
According to the BP website, “BP has committed a total of $92 million over a three year period for the states to use to promote tourism.” Of course, the section of the site devoted to the recently launched ad campaign, “Best Season,” never once mentions WHY the company is sponsoring the tourism ads. Out of the goodness of its own heart? Out of guilt? Fear of further lawsuits?
The ad campaign does more than tout Gulf Coast tourism; it indirectly – yet blatantly - promotes BP itself. You see, the BP name and logo appear at the end of each spot. Sort of like a tar ball on pristine white sand.
If you ask me, it’s a bit self-serving for BP.
You can see the BP ads here.
As for the ads themselves, I like the fact that they feature people who actually live and work in the area. Now that I live in the Northeast, I miss that Southern drawl.
As for the motivation behind the ads, I’ll say this to the folks at BP: Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves, ya hear?