BP serving free lemonade in the French Quarter…

Extra ice, please...

So, I saw another BP commercial the other day, and it seemed a bit…disingenuous.

I mean, we all want the Gulf to be okay. We do. It’s our finest hope that lives so rudely interrupted by BP’s catastraphuk can get back to normal…but these advertisements, the ones that make it look like maybe the oil spill was the best thing that could’ve happened to the Gulf, the way it brought entire communities together, singing Kumbaya and building spiritual alters to Bob Dudley’s benevolence?

Really, British Petroleum needs to knock it off…

If BP pisses in a glass and tells everyone it’s lemonade…sure, the people might believe it until they pick up the glass, but then they’re going to wonder why it’s being served so warm, and that’s really what BP’s doing, serving warm lemonade nationwide.

Since the beginning of this thing, 20 months ago, this oil company has been in public relations mode, spinning selective facts at a million dollar pace, and over the past couple of weeks, it’s only amped up and would seem poised to continue throughout the football playoffs, tailor-made for a nationwide audience.

“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.

Yeah, except, it’s not true.

“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.”

That’s right…fishing areas still closed…20 months later.

“And the economy is showing progress, with many areas on the Gulf Coast having their best tourism season in years,” Cross continues, beaming away.

Again, not entirely true.

Bridgette Varone, head of the Gulf Coast chapter of the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association, said restaurants reported similar revenues in both 2010 and 2011 for the month of June, one of the busiest months, “I wish we had better news to report,” Varone said. “We didn’t blow any socks off.”

And…

“The numbers on our shrimp are way down,” Cooper continued, “They (BP) make it sound like they’re doing a lot, but they’re not doing much to help the fishermen out … I got good fishermen struggling to pay their bills right now.” In addition, the head of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, a commercial shrimpers group, called it “BP propaganda…When you have a lot of money, you can pretty much get any point across,” Clint Guidry complained. “It’s kind of like indoctrination.”

I don’t know, that sounds a lot like extraneous details…one might even call it unimportant anecdote…

Tom Mueller, a BP spokesman, said the ad campaign was highlighting “facts,” not “anecdotes.”

See?

So step right up and grab a glass…British Petroleum has spared no expense, even hiring two chefs, Emeril Lagasse and John Besh to serve up the lemonade, along with fish tacos and seafood jambalaya to tourists in town to catch the football games at the Superdome…

Because the seafood, it’s safe, get it?

Right.

Maybe if you have three shrimp per year…but if not, there might be a bigger problem, because when it comes to testing seafood coming out of the Gulf:

“The FDA is not only allowing PAH levels 100 to 10,000 times higher than normally considered safe….in fact, the FDA guidelines for testing are inadequate to begin with.  From not testing the entire organism’s body to grossly underestimating the amounts of seafood consumed by the average seafood eater…we should be very concerned about FDA guidelines for Gulf seafood.”

Hmm, it would seem some scientists aren’t drinking the lemonade.

Course, if British Petroleum wanted to make the argument things are fine with the ecology, the economy and the seafood they might want to make sure they’ve not left well over a million gallons of oil in the Gulf…but when it comes to transitioning away from cleanup towards restoration, British Petroleum also served a few pitchers to the Coast Guard, who approved of the transitional plan despite scenes such as:

“…Lafourche (Parish)… BP and the Coast Guard have still not removed three land bridges and two sheet-pile closures in Fourchon installed during the spill to keep oil from getting through breaches on the beach into interior marshes. “We are hesitant to remove them because of the oil. It’s collected above and below them,” Charlotte Randolph (Lafourche Parish President) said. “We don’t want to pull them out and allow that oil into marshes.”

Or as Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves put it:

“The whole discussion goes back to legacy response,” Graves said. “You have more oil unaccounted for right now than was spilled during the Exxon Valdez. Tell me what would happen if the Coast Guard in Alaska had said, ‘We’re not going to clean this up. Let it naturally degrade.”

Seems to me like there’s a lot more work to do, regardless of what the advertisements say and British Petroleum needs to learn, no matter how many times they say it, no matter how much money they have, public relations spin is still a lie, the truth is still out there and that truth remains below the surface of the water, in the marshes and on the dinner plates…

BP needs to have continued monitoring for oil in the Gulf with cleanup response at the ready. BP needs to be pushing sincere testing of Gulf seafood, instead of testing geared towards an end result. BP needs to stop shoving their self-proclaimed innocence down people’s throats and/or smothering them with rosy, tourist advertisements that deny the problem.

Or hell, go ahead, make your tourist advertisements, but make them honest…let people know that sure, coming on down to the Gulf for a vacation can be safe, fun and relaxing…but that your company still has so much more to do, and you intend to do it, for reals…and you don’t intend to withdraw your efforts while turning up the volume on your commercials, because here’s the thing…if you dumb bastards keep lying about the Gulf, by the time you don’t need to lie anymore, nobody will believe you’re telling the truth.

I don’t care who BP pays to hand out fish tacos in the French Quarter, it doesn’t fix the Gulf, and it doesn’t make everything fine again…

And no amount of warm lemonade will change that fact

Have a nice day.

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3 thoughts on “BP serving free lemonade in the French Quarter…

    1. Good points to be made in the link above, however…what would be nice is honesty, among other things, it’s the distortions and lies BP flouts that drive me crazy…less so what they’re paying for…

      -Drake

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