If you've paid any attention to television lately, you've likely seen a few commercials for tourism along the Gulf Coast. If not, here's one:
Here's another one:
Don't these spots just make you want to get in the car, drive down to Alabama and eat some shrimp? I also saw another one that features, in a prominent role, the Governor of Mississippi and his lovely wife. They're inviting you down to Mississippi, too. Y'all come on down, there's absolutely nothing wrong.
On the one hand, it's hard to blame them for trying. But at what cost?
BP (the fourth largest company in the world) has vowed to do whatever it takes to make sure no one along the Gulf Coast is financially impacted by their epic fuck up. This includes producing, procuring and deploying media in at least a few prime time slots (that I noticed) last week. Commercials like the ones above. No, the spots don't have to say BP for us to know they're part of a BP snow job.
Come on down! Our beaches are clear! Nothing whatsoever is wrong!
Curiously, I don't remember seeing ads for the Gulf Coast when all the oil rigs were functioning properly. Why is it that my market is suddenly their market? Honestly, do they think people are going to do what they say just because they say to do it during the second break on American Idol?
Did you see the baby turtles in our ad? Aw…so cute. Come! Quickly! We'd love to see ya!
Can money solve all of our problems? Evidently, BP thinks so. And so do the people who allowed them to run such a ridiculous campaign. You see, we're all just minions. We see, we hear, we act favorably. The numbers say so. But imagine what happens if people flock down there and a nice storm kicks some of that sludge onshore? Betcha people will share that experience with other people.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Gulf coast and my heart is with everyone affected there. But more than the people, my heart is with the ecosystem we've just altered for a decade or more. A system that only barely includes us to begin with.
"Drill Baby Drill" is the war cry of the ignorant. Yes, the earth can bounce back from anything we throw at it. Anything. Even nukes. The oil people are right. This rock will continue to orbit our neighborhood star whether we're here or not. Rather, it's the organic creatures that live on the crust that need the rock. Not the other way around.
This oil spill is more than just the money and tourism. It's about taking a step back and making a rational assessment of the situation. But to too many people, the Gulf Coast is just 20 billion dollars in tourism. Being eco-friendly isn't a priority in most capitalistic endeavors. Except in hindsight. In TV ads.
Shame on the officials along the Gulf coast who bought into BP's 'throw money at it' logic. Had they thought this through beyond just a knee-jerk reaction, they could have done something useful with the generous BP media buy. Something like my friend Michael Calienes mentioned last week:
Had the officials just said, "That's it then – we've got to write off this year. Let us now get to work on how to respond to this disaster so that next tourist season, our message will have meaning." Oh, and they'd already have a nice budget to build on, too. But no, they took the devil's money and pretzel logic and now they look desperate. Sadly, at this point the only ones profiting from the oil spill are media companies.
Seafood, sunny skies, tanned and beautiful children running barefoot – and you. Oh, and baby turtles. Come on down!