Green Fallout The era when green marketing meant sunny logos and big environmental claims is over. Just ask BP.
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When sweet, red crude began sticking to the marsh grass in coastal Louisiana in May, it was the end of an era for many people, including shrimpers, fishermen and a huge swath of the Gulf Coast tourism industry. But it was also, at least symbolically, the end of an era for the marketing world.
For more than a decade, BP had flooded the media with advertisements showing solar panels, windmills and waving fields of grass without a drop of oil in sight. It changed its name, KFC-style, from British Petroleum to BP to deemphasize its claim to fame: hydrocarbons. The company adopted a stylized green sun as its logo and rolled out the slogan "Beyond Petroleum."
But when the company's Deepwater Horizon offshore well began blowing tens of thousands of barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico each day, no outlay of advertising dollars could change the cold, hard facts: The company that had cultivated the greenest image in the oil industry still derived more than 99 percent of its revenues from gas and petroleum. For consumers who had been fed the image of the company out tending windmills, the revelation was almost as shocking as the images of oil-soaked pelicans.