May 29 2010

Fake BP Public Relations Twitter Account 10 Times More Popular Than the Real Thing

by Andrew DiFiore

Without getting entrenched in the politics of what is undoubtedly one of the worst environmental disasters in US history, the fact that millions of gallons of crude oil is still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico more than a month after the oil rig explosion seems obscenely absurd. People tune in to their news source expecting to hear that the oil leak is at least contained but even now it appears the latest attempt by British Petroleum has failed to have an impact.

It is this absurdity that has given rise to a fake BP Public Relations Twitter account @BPGlobalPR that tweets satirical sentiments like: “Sadly we can no longer certify our oil as Dolphin Safe.”

The account’s owner remains anonymous (for now) though “he” recently had an interview with Brenna Ehrlich of Mashable. At the time of this writing @BPGlobalPR has collected over 84,000 followers since the first tweet on 5/19/10. That’s more than 10 times the followers of BP’s official Twitter account @BP_America which has about 8,100 followers and twice the tweets. It is really no surprise that more people would rather laugh than cry (so to speak). And as every good marketer knows, humor is a powerful memory hook.


Some people may feel that a parody of this kind is in bad taste but apparently BP doesn’t think so given they have not asked Twitter to take down the account (see this AdAge article); a smart move on BP’s part as they have enough to worry about without adding Twitter to the list.

The reason I write this post at all is that both BP and the fake BP make good use of the social network to address their respective audiences. For one it is about damage control and for the other it is about cause awareness (albeit in a droll sort of way not unlike John Stewart).

For the record, sales of the $25 BP Cares T-shirts being promoted on the fake BP Twitter feed actually goes toward the Gulf Restoration Network.