It has been a slow and steady climb back for the BP brand since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Little by little the company leadership has been working to find ways to look forward and positively to what the company has done as the images of the tragedy in the Gulf fade slowly and the brand rebounds.
Of course one of the greatest areas where comebacks are adored is in sport, and BP, recognizing that opportunity and the drawing power of diverse athletes, recently released their latest far-reaching campaign to again help restore the positive sides of the brand and its thousands of employees to an always cynical public.
The latest campaign is a forward-thinking look at the London Olympics, also a key part of the BP brand reclamation project, although it involves American athletes as opposed to those on the continent. As part of their USOC sponsorship, BP selected a wide swath of Olympians and Paralympians, nine in all, to be part of their proactive ambassador team. The team, from
decathlete medalist Bryan Clay and world-class hurdler Lolo Jones to Paralympic standout and medalist Rudy Garcia-Tolson, will do all the usual messaging and appearance and endorsement obligations that comes with such a partnership.
Their launch through social media and the use of augmented reality to promote their personalities is a great new twist, and one which can be altered and downloaded as the game approach. Held up to any sort of computer or Smartphone camera, the printed cards will come to life as the athletes digitally appear in front of the user sharing exclusive training tips and information about themselves and the sports they love.
Again while all that is a cool twist, what is even better is the potential brand adoption for a younger audience that can come with an augmented reality and/or mobile push for BP. While an older consumer may quickly forget the damage the BP brand did to the environment while he or she is filling up at the pump, a younger consumer is still skeptical about companies that do damage to the environment, so going to a more virtual platform may help engage and message that younger consumer just a bit more. BP is in the mega-business of selling products in a very crowded environment, and the use of Smartphone technology to communicate with that discerning consumer is just one more way they can step outside the crowd.
The other interesting adaption that comes with the use of the smart phone will be how those augmented reality platforms can be used for promotional opportunities. Does a Bryan Clay follower down the line get an opportunity to purchase products at a discount at selected stores, can a Lolo Jones follower be prompted into a sweepstakes for autographed merch or a meet and greet or some sort of Town hall event online with Jones herself. Tracking the spending and download habits and serving the consumer even more is key to such a launch with a digital offering.
Then there is the tie to the USOC and its athletes themselves. Even with all the big business of Olympic sport, the tinge of nostalgia tied to Olympians, especially those not in the high net worth sports of basketball or even swimming, is still very high among the average consumer. BP has tied themselves to successful athletes, but not to LeBron James or Michael Phelps. The stories they selected appeal to a wide range of athletes, and are of athletes with chances for huge success in London. They are established but still have upside, and with that growth BP gets to grow as well.
Yes it is only a piece of their sports engagement, but to combine solid backstories, technology, and the Olympic movement, BP has again picked a spot to find ways to continue to heal and to grow in the mind of an active audience who still needs to know that the company is not done with their recovery efforts, but is understanding the consumer and his or her needs more and more and is communicating to that consumer in the environment…sport…where a comeback and hard work is rewarded regularly.