Friday, August 17, 2007

Marketing Musings: From Oil to Flowers, BP Shows How it is Done

You have all probably all seen the increase in “eco-marketing” by the big oil companies. Chevron’s “Will you join us?” campaign is plastered in nearly as many places as Accenture’s overused images of Tiger Woods. But the Chevron campaign, whilst a great leap forward in positioning on this subject, usually left me feeling flat. Tips on being green and educating me on everything the company is doing doesn’t seem to resonate simply because I don’t get the feeling that anything on the street is actually changing. I always had a nagging feeling, “...step it up Chevron”. After all, they made $5.4B profit last quarter.

Yesterday I stopped at a new BP service station in Los Angeles and whilst I was mostly drawn in by the futuristic design, I could also see that they were trying to portray a new beginning in eco-responsibility. After I started filling the car, I emptied all of the garbage that had accumulated in my rental car; there were several recycling options for the various pieces of garbage, hardly a game changer but good to see. At that moment, a young man in a BP t-shirt approached me and started explaining the station from top to bottom.

After asking me if I was familiar with BP, he went on to explain how solar panels on the roof provided all of the electricity for the station, that the concrete driveway was made with recycled glass and other materials were sustainability obtained. He asked me a few questions to gauge my interest in the subject of being eco-friendly which I thought was engaging and interesting. He saved the coolest thing for last; he handed me a few eco “tip cards” which mention “driving aggressively causes increased fuel usage” and “turning lights off in a empty room helps us all”. I almost declined the cards until he told me that when I was finished with them I should soak them in water overnight and then plant them. Guess what, wildflowers will grow! How cool is that?

I left the station with a feeling that BP’s approach was far more than marketing spin. Not only was it wonderfully responsible, it was entertaining, original and the very definition of my mantra – SAY + LOOK + DO = REPUTATION.

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