Scott Dean, GM of press relations for BP, said by e-mail that the “social media expertise” Ogilvy is providing is part of the firm's global partnership with the company. The firm declined comment.
Ogilvy PR was part of the Ogilvy & Mather team that developed BP's “Beyond Petroleum” campaign in 2000, a rebranding initiative that included crisis management, media relations, and partnership development.
BP is also working with Mindshare, a WPP Group-owned digital firm, as one of the company's “strategic partners” for the crisis, said Hejdi Feick, director of communications and government affairs at BP Canada.
She said Ogilvy PR and Mindshare are providing support for the Deepwater Horizon Response team, but declined to provide additional information about the firms' scope of work. The Deepwater Horizon Response team is the unified command leading the response effort. Organizations involved include BP, Transocean, the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Coast Guard.
Social media has been a key communications tool for the response team, which is actively using Twitter, Facebook, and SMS to provide updates about the oil spill.
BP hired Purple Strategies, Washington-based strategic communications shop led by Steve McMahon and Alex Castellanos, for “response-related advertising,” said Toby Odone, press officer for BP.
Andrew Gowers, head of group media at BP, and Anne Womack-Kolton, head of US media, are leading the response. Odone said Womack-Kolton was hired to replace Ronnie Chappell, who retired, and her appointment had been in place before the oil spill occurred.