A big spill with small comms

Unless a client is looking to bailout newspapers, I have never been much of a proponent of newspaper ads.

Unless a client is looking to bailout newspapers, I have never been much of a proponent of newspaper ads, especially the full-page variety. Too many lawyerly words, and weird pictures. 

Since no one really is reading the newspaper today anymore, it's safe to say no one is really reading full-age ads, which is the windfall that keeps the remaining Armada of Old Media afloat off the waters of the New Media World.

This is why it was strange to see in Saturday's Washington Post a full-page ad from BP. I am assuming this ran elsewhere, too. Is this the best they can do?

Here are a few thoughts about BP, in no particular order:

1. BP's ad was mediocre because it never expressed regret or remorse. It talked repeatedly however about its “commitment” to the people of the Gulf.

2. The first step in rehabilitating the company's tattered image is to apologize as soon as possible with no corporate commitment jargon.

3. I had to research the name of BP's CEO. We ought to know his name because we ought to see him taking charge or at least taking the reins of communicating.

4. BP seems to be conducting its crisis plan form the Exxon Valdez era, which included nightly newscasts and newspapers ads. What's next, radio spots?

5. We are in a content era. Communicate like it. Don't just conjure a message, conjure a medium through which to communicate it. Full-page ads are old school and reach the very bored and those with time on their hands.

6. BP should hire 20 freelance journalists to report on the Gulf response through BPs perspective and load their content onto the official response site. At least they can guarantee the company's point of view will be captured and they might educate people along the way.

7. BP CEO Tony Hayward should hop on YouTube. It would be free and get more coverage and eyeballs than The Washington Post ad.

Eric Bovim is co-founder and CEO of Gibraltar Associates.

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