Sometimes you can only fully appreciate something if you look at it many years later. Pictures of celebrities before they were famous, for example. BP’s case, however, is less “Wow! Look at how cute and awkward they were” and more “Wow! Look at how they tried to sucker us!” If you go back far enough, you’ll find they’ve been positioning themselves as a shiny, happy company for decades — even before their 2000 brand shift when they merged with Amoco, took over Arco, and famously changed their tagline to “Beyond Petroleum.” That’s also when the company embraced the sun/star happy green and yellow logo. Slogans like “We Believe in Alternative Energy Like Solar and Cappuccino” were the spin of choice.
BP’s greenwashing has always been ironic but now that oil has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for more than two months, BP’s advertisements through the years are even more painful to see.
So, take a shot of something strong as you take a tour of BP’s eight most ironic ads through the 20th century — and beyond.
“BP: Best Possible” (1922)
We have some other ideas of what BP stands for: Bitterest Possible. Bloody Pathetic. Ballsy Promotion. Black Paste. Better Prosecute.
“The oiliest oil” (1953)
Snuggling up to a big, “green” drop of the “oiliest oil” is not as much fun as these cars make it out to be. Just ask the pelicans.
“If all this has happened in just fifty years what will the next fifty years bring?” (1959)
Well … BP just barely squeaked by the “next fifty years” since ’59 without an oilpocalypse. But the start of the next fifty ain’t lookin’ so hot.
“Develop your children’s appreciation of the wonderful world of nature” (1970)
Kids may not learn to appreciate nature from this coloring book, but they will learn how many brown crayons it takes to coat it in oil.
“Is it too good to waste? You bet your BP it is” (1973)
You bet your BP they’re wasting it. Hey BP! We have an idea for saving gas — don’t drive.
“The Quiet Achiever” (1982)
Good thing kangaroos don’t live in the ocean.
“Think outside the barrel” (2004)
That didn’t work out so well. How about we keep things inside the barrel?
2010 World Cup commercial: “Beyond 2010, there’s a nation united”
Yeah, one nation united … against BP.