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Monday, June 21, 2010

“I’ll take ‘Just don’t say anything stupid’ for $200 please.”

And the answer is... Who is out on the left, and in on the right? YES! By now you know that BP has made a sacrifice in an attempt to appease the shareholder gods, and more importantly, the American public. CEO Tony Hayward (l) is out and Robert Dudley assumes control over daily operations. Obviously this will include PR duties, and short of being Lindsay Lohan’s flack, there’s no tougher gig these days.

I was thinking however that Tony’s problems were two-fold. One his, and one BP’s in general.

First, wasn’t his problem mostly about failing to grasp American language and customs? (You saw this with Toyota’s CEO and his painful testimony before Congress.) The most recent gaff—and likely the one that did him in—had to do with the *small* people comment to describe the citizens of the Gulf region. Given the long history that the U.K. has of royalty, loyal subjects and commoners, is anyone really surprised at his attitude though?* (Expect a lot of conciliatory remarks as Dudley tries to right the PR ship in his first few days.)

I’m wondering though if BP’s problem here in a way dovetails with Hayward’s, in that, the company was not prepared for the backlash from the American people and the media over any of this, maybe because they expected to frame this in the context of royalty and loyal subjects. A country like us rising up should be no surprise to them however, loyal subjects to no one! *cue triumphant horns*

*My new agency name. (RLSC.)


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