When the tragic oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, the Strengthening Brand America Project launched its first Place BrandAid Initiative. Economic development professionals shared their expertise with colleagues in affected states on how to help their place brands avoid becoming collateral damage. I authored a post entitled “BP Damages More Than Its Own Brand”. The post addressed the need to focus on helping strengthen local community brands as a way to accelerate recovery of lost tourism revenues. The Place BrandAid Initiative was recognized in chapter 15 of the International Place Branding Yearbook 2011 as “an excellent example of how the SBA project encourages collaboration”. Subsequently, we have launched a new Place BrandAid Initiative to help enable communities impacted by the Shale Energy Industry to develop strategic plans that will help them avoid the risk of a boom/bust cycle. If you haven’t taken an opportunity to look at the Place BrandAid Initiative, I encourage you to do so. We are proud of the work and the contribution it makes to help local economic development professionals successfully address extraordinary challenges.
EPILOGUE – BP IN THE GULF COAST
The Gulf oil spill was a tragedy, no question about that. While I wasn’t impressed with the initial handling of the crisis by BP, I am impressed with the Company’s on-going commitment to helping the communities and Region reestablish their place brands and come out of the experience in an even stronger position than prior to the negative event.
Click HERE to see the commercial that caught my attention. This is a great campaign!
I was so impressed by the commercial, that it motivated me to learn more about what BP has been doing to help the Gulf region recover its brand equity. I learned that in 2011, BP committed $92 million over a three-year period to promote tourism in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. This was incremental to $87 million in tourism grants provided to the states in 2010.
I know throwing money at a problem isn’t always the best way to address it. But, in this case the work is both high quality and working to attract tourists. Herb Malone, CEO of the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism Bureau has been quoted as saying “Not only did we achieve and surpass 2009, we surpassed our previous record of 2007. In every quarter of 2011 we set a new record in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.”
BP launched the campaign in the fall of 2011. It is a series of “My Gulf” advertisements. Mike Utsler, head of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization is quoted as saying this about the effort – “The tourism funds that BP has provided enable each state to develop programs that meet their specific marketing needs and opportunities while the new “My Gulf” advertising and video vignettes are designed to compliment those efforts and sell the entire Gulf Coast.”
Click HERE to view a video about the progress achieved in the Gulf Region.
You can also hear more about what BP is doing to help the Gulf Coast by clicking HERE.
We are all quick to criticize a company when we believe they dropped the ball. I would like to strive to also be quick to commend companies that strive to do the right thing and rectify problems they had a hand in creating. As I said, BP could have simply thrown cash at the problems created by the Gulf oil spill. But, in this case I think BP dedicated their “A” Team to help remedy the negative impact to the community, State and Regional place brands in the Gulf of Mexico. Kudos to Kathy Leech, Director of BP Brand Communications and her Team for the work they are doing with the tourism officials from across the Gulf States. It is making a difference in the lives and livelihood of the residents and is helping repair the place brand equity of communities impacted by the tragedy. As a result, I believe it is also helping to strengthen Brand America. Thank you.
Since I am complimenting a corporation, I know my motivation will be questioned. I do not have any affiliation with BP. I also do not have any direct investment in BP stock. The opinion expressed above is my own, nobody encouraged me to put it forward. It is not intended to stimulate controversy. It is simply intended to compliment what I believe is some great place branding work.
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