The end of the BP brand

Bill Regardie Founder, Regardie's Magazine
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If the recently leaked BP e-mails about taking shortcuts to save a few million dollars are in context, the oil giant has just leaped to the top of the slime pile of greed. That the company will have to be broken up is a given.

If you were an MBA student, this becomes the ultimate case study of how to destroy a brand.

For BP did virtually everything wrong: lousy crisis management, playing down the size of the problem, having the Pillsbury Doughboy as their spokesman. For such a big company, you would think they could have hired better gamers.

Now it’s up to their board, the bankers and the governments to break up the company and sell off the parts. It will be ugly, but fun to watch if you were a fan of the Inquisition.

The company has become the safety net of late night comedians. It has not only become the butt of jokes but also earned the hatred of the entire Gulf. It makes Helen Thomas look like St. Teresa.

Hatred is not a feeling that comes easily. You have to earn it. It took Kim Jong Il and his dad decades to get where BP got in a mere two months.

Having spent more than 30 years editing and publishing magazines in Washington, I learned some things about stories, politics and, most importantly, momentum.

This BP story has a set of wheels like Betty Grable had legs, Bette Midler had balls and and Madonna has brass.

The shortcuts e-mail are merely the latest angle and are sure to take us deeper inside BP’s corporate operations. Which, you can be sure, will be twisted to show the worst.

No one has any idea of the final cost or damage to the Gulf’s environment, except that it will catastrophic, as well be the damage to commercial fishing and tourism.

Meanwhile the oil is still flowing toward shore and the well has not yet been to be capped.

So what do we have in the way of a story?

Angry citizens love nothing more than watching the media and a government committee or two finish off a wounded water buffalo. Today, it’s CEO Tony Hayward, only he’s merely the appetizer.

The mess that BP’s greed has created will break up the company from the board to its operating units.

BP went beyond greed. It f–ked with Mother Nature.

Already, it is the lead story in everything but “Entertainment Tonight.” Editors are driving their reporters to find anything to make BP look worse. Vicious bunch of bastards, aren’t we?

There is no way that BP can stop it. No one can fix this; not even Tommy Boggs and Chuck Manatt, together. The British government can scream Bloody Sunday about BP importance, but this game is going to be called on account of greed. It’s the Empire’s worst loss since the Falklands.

The media and the feds don’t often get a piece of prime meat like this to devour.

Now that the public is pissed off, too, the brand is finished.

Bill Regardie is the founder of Regardies magazine.