The BP oil company spent $93 million on advertising in the months after its massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico this year — more than triple the amount it spent for the same period in 2009, according to results of a congressional study released Wednesday.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee report showed that during the three month period that it investigated BP’s advertising — April through July — BP spent on average $5 million per week on self promotion. The increased spending was almost entirely targeted at national and local newspapers and magazines, and national and local televisions advertisements.
BP also indicated it significantly expanded the markets in which it ran ads during the 2010 period. From April to the end of July 2009, the company ran local market newspaper ads in two states and Washington, D.C. During the same period in 2010, BP ran local newspaper ads in 126 markets in 17 states, including the Gulf states directly impacted by the oil spill; Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Rep. Kathy Castor, Florida Democrat, who requested the study, criticized the company’s attempt to polish its tarnished image, saying that the money could have been better spent helping Gulf Coast residents adversely affected by the spill.
“While BP certainly has the right to advertise, its approach has been insensitive to the taxpayers and business owners harmed by the Deepwater Horizon (oil rig) blowout,” Castor said. “BP should use a significant portion of its advertising dollars to ease the strain on Florida small businesses that rely on tourism.”
Castor also referred to economic impact studies by Conde Nast, University of Central Florida, U.S. Travel Association and others that have shown the economic impact of the BP oil disaster to tourism and Florida’s overall economy is projected to be in the billions of dollars.