News / USA

BP, Obama Public Approval Ratings Fall as Gulf Oil Spill Worsens

BP television ad
BP television ad

Multimedia

BP stock continues to suffer, having plunged to a 13-year low, even as the company tries to rescue its damaged reputation amid the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with a $50 million public relations campaign.  But most crisis management experts are calling BP's new ad campaign shallow and premature, saying it lacks details about how the company plans to deal with the worst oil spill in U.S. history.  But it is not only BP's image that is suffering.  Even U.S. President Barack Obama is getting poor marks for his handling of the crisis.

"The Gulf spill is a tragedy that never should have happened," said a BP television ad.

In the battle to win hearts and minds, BP's newest ad, which features the company's chief executive officer, appears to be winning few converts.

"I'm Tony Hayward," said another ad. "BP has taken full responsibility for cleaning up the spill in the Gulf."

Despite an expensive, multimedia campaign, public relations experts say BP's image remains that of a big, faceless corporation that says it cares, even if few believe it.

"Right off the bat, they failed to manage the pictures," said Gene Grabowski.

Gene Grabowski is senior vice president at Levick Strategic Communications, a leading crisis management firm here in Washington.

"We didn't see faces of BP employees working on the ships to control the spill," he said. "We didn't see BP employees in the war room.  We didn't see the CEO, Tony Hayward, with his sleeves rolled up in the war room, walking his team through the process.  As a matter of fact, Tony Hayward didn't take his coat off until probably the sixth or seventh week into the crisis."

The commercials are the first of many BP ads expected to air in the coming weeks.  The oil giant has also purchased Internet search terms on Google and Yahoo to direct inquiries to its website.

President Obama has been critical of BP's public relations campaign.

"And what I don't want to hear is when they're spending that kind of money on their shareholders and spending that kind of money on TV advertising that they're nickel-and-diming fishermen or small businesses here in the Gulf [of Mexico] who are having a hard time," said President Obama.

National and regional public opinion surveys show that the president should be doing more to end the crisis.  According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 54 percent of people in Florida, for example, disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling the disaster.

Although the president has visited the Gulf coast three times since the spill began, he is getting poor grades from people who spoke to VOA.

"He's been down there to my knowledge twice, but I don't think he's really done that much," said a woman.

Despite lobbying efforts by some organizations to boycott BP gasoline stations, consumers do not appear to be punishing BP.

Those we spoke with say price still determines where they buy their gas.

One woman said that boycotting BP would achieve nothing.

"Should we boycott BP and then expect them to pay for everything, "she asked.

But according to communications analyst Gene Grabowski, public opinion could change if the crisis worsens.

"I think BP has to find a path forward, show us what that path is, stop apologizing - stop blaming and start doing," he said.

Despite BP's efforts to contain the leak, experts say oil likely will spew into the Gulf of Mexico for at least two more months - until relief wells can be drilled.  Meanwhile, oil residue continues to spread along the U.S. coastline, threatening livelihoods and sensitive wildlife in the areas.  

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More