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)

BP ad: "Best Possible"Photo: Wikimedia Commons

We have some other ideas of what BP stands for: Bitterest Possible. Bloody Pathetic. Ballsy Promotion. Black Paste. Better Prosecute.