BP buys oil-related search terms to make its official site show up first in search engines

If only they had been so clever in their operations or response

bpoil As BP’s oil disaster continues to ravage the Gulf Coast, the company is ramping up its public relations and legal operations to try to salvage its reputation and protect itself from lawsuits. Now, ABC News is reporting that one such tactic BP is using is purchasing search items that have the word “oil” in them on various search engines to ensure that the first results that appear link directly to BP’s official website:

BP, the very company responsible for the oil spill that is already the worst in U.S. history, has purchased several phrases on search engines such as Google and Yahoo so that the first result that shows up directs information seekers to the company’s official website.

A simple Google search of “oil spill” turns up several thousand news results, but the first link, highlighted at the very top of the page, is from BP. “Learn more about how BP is helping,” the link’s tagline reads. […]

We have bought search terms on search engines like Google to make it easier for people to find out more about our efforts in the Gulf and make it easier for people to find key links to information on filing claims, reporting oil on the beach and signing up to volunteer,” BP spokesman Toby Odone told ABC News.

Reflecting on BP’s latest PR tactic, marketing company executive Scott Slatin tells the Fiscal Times, “While we have seen corporations use search engine marketing to sway opinions, most recently in the health care debate, it is always under the cover of a nonprofit or lobbying organization. This is the first time I have seen a company use this tactic on such a wide scale. And it is very effective, because BP gets its message, ‘Learn more about how BP is helping,’ atop almost every Google search permutation related to the spill, and effectively blocks nonprofits (with much smaller pockets) from getting their message across.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Friday tweeted PR advice to help BP “win” the battle of public perception: “Our friend @davidall writes about social gaming strategies that can help companies like BP win public relations battles”
This is a Think Progress repost.

20 Responses to BP buys oil-related search terms to make its official site show up first in search engines

  1. Raul says:

    Gulf of bloody rust.

  2. jcwinnie says:

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to compare coverage of the CRU email controversy with the BP oil disaster in the Gulf?

  3. sod says:

    the press is completely failing us on this topic, again.

    can anyone explain to me, why NOBODY is asking BP representatives, why their ship now is collecting TWICE the oil, that they claimed was leaking?

    “As we speak, the containment cap is producing around 10,000 barrels of oil a day to the surface,” Hayward told the BBC in an interview broadcast Sunday. “We’re going to clean-up the oil, we’re going to remediate any environmental damage and we are going to return the Gulf coast to the position it was in prior to this event.”

    Hayward is exposing one of his lies (the 5000 barrels one), in the first part of this message. so why should anyone believe the second part?

  4. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    It would appear that the BP Google purchase ony applies to US based searches.

  5. Raul says:

    With thousands of oil wells in the gulf off of the coast of Mississippi
    seems many rig workers would find the conditions unhospitable and would
    put in for transfer before they were caught in a breeze of dispersant.

  6. Gemini says:

    There is little cause for concern about this tactic by BP.  Here’s why:

    People who go searching for information about the oil spill are similar to those interested in a car crash or a local murder investigation?  Are they going to be attracted first to how people are helping?  I don’t think so.  They want to see how bad it is.  They’re rubber-necking on the information superhighway.

    So with a Google search for “oil spill”, they will be drawn to the photos – which BP cannot counter.  They will go here and here and here before they both with the bland link by BP.

  7. prokaryote says:

    Wildlife Apocalypse: Video of Gulf birds, fish caught in BP oil spill #

  8. prokaryote says:

    The Amount Of Neurotoxin Pesticide Corexit Sprayed By BP Tops 1 Million Gallons

  9. prokaryote says:

    But what most people don’t know is that the active ingredient of the toxic chemical dispersant, which is up to 60% by volume, being sprayed by BP to fight the Gulf oil spill is a is a neurotoxin pesticide that is acutely toxic to both human and aquatic life, causes cancer, causes damage to internal organs such as the liver and kidneys simply by absorbing it through the skin and may cause reproductive side effects.

    In fact the neurotoxin pesticide that is lethal to 50% of life in concentrations as little as 2.6 parts per million has been banned for use in the UK since 1998 because it failed the UK “Rocky shore test” which assures that the dispersant does not cause a “significant deleterious ecological change” – meaning it can delete an ecology or more specifically delete the entire food chain.

    Corexit has also earned the highest EPA warning label for toxicity which means the effects of the toxic chemicals to the eye are corrosive resulting in irreversible destruction of ocular tissue and other tissue with corneal involvement along with an burning that can persist for more than 21 days and effects to human skin are corrosive resulting in tissue destruction into the dermis and/or scarring.

    Corexit was widely used after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and according to a literature review performed by the group the Alaska Community Action on Toxics was later linked with widespread long lasting health impacts in people including respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders.

    The “Human Health Hazards” are said to be “Chronic” for Corexit EC9527A according to the EPA.

    So What Are These Dispersants Made Of That Makes Them Such a Powerful Neurotoxin Pesticide?

    The main ingredients of Corexit is 2-Butoxyethanol which can make up to 60% of the dispersant and is known to be toxic to blood, kidneys, liver, and the central nervous system (CNS).

    2-Butoxyethanol is also known to cause cancer, birth defects and has been found to cause genetic mutations and is a delayed chronic health hazard as well as an environmental hazardous material

    Corexit also contains Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Mercury, and Cyanide.

    How effective is Corexit in dispersing Gulf crude?

    Corexit 9500 is only 54.7% effective and Corexit 9527A is 63.4% effective in dispersing the crude oil found off the shores of South Louisiana.

    Why allow the use of these toxic dispersants?

    Well the EPA has ordered BP to stop using the dispersants but BP has refused.

  10. prokaryote says:

    The link

  11. prokaryote says:

    Corexit is lethal in as little as 2.6 parts per million where oil is lethal in 11 parts per million meaning that Corexit is over 4 times more toxic than oil.

    Furthermore scientific studies show that oil dispersed with Corexit is 11 times more lethal than oil alone.

    In fact the study referenced showed that crude oil was lethal at 4250 parts per million to killifish but combination of oil mixed with Corexit was lethal in as little as 317.7 ppm.

    “Dispersed oils were more toxic than crude oils,” noted the report.

  12. prokaryote says:

    Corexit is a product line of solvents produced by Nalco Holding Company which is associated with BP.

  13. prokaryote says:

    The use of BP’s Corexit plays out as a form of bio-terrorism.

  14. Raul says:

    I was thinking that the last time I went to beach in Fla. I did not
    see nearly the types and numbers of shells from sea creatures as I
    remember seeing only 10 years ago when I would visit.
    And the sand really didn’t seem as clean. USF reports that some microbial
    action breaks down some of the elements in oil slick.

  15. JasonW says:

    Slightly OT, but while we’re pointing fingers, shouldn’t we highlight spills elsewhere? Check out this article on the situation in Nigeria.

    A few choice quotes:

    ‘In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico[…]’

    ‘It is impossible to know how much oil is spilled in the Niger delta each year because the companies and the government keep that secret. However, two major independent investigations over the past four years suggest that as much is spilled at sea, in the swamps and on land every year as has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico so far.’

    ‘Deepwater Horizon may have exceed Exxon Valdez, but within a few years in Nigeria offshore spills from four locations dwarfed the scale of the Exxon Valdez disaster many times over.’

  16. prokaryote says:

    “USF reports that some microbial
    action breaks down some of the elements in oil slick.”

    Bioremediation can be defined as any process that uses microorganisms, fungi, green plants or their enzymes to return the natural environment altered by contaminants to its original condition. Bioremediation may be employed to attack specific soil contaminants, such as degradation of chlorinated hydrocarbons by bacteria. An example of a more general approach is the cleanup of oil spills by the addition of nitrate and/or sulfate fertilisers to facilitate the decomposition of crude oil by indigenous or exogenous bacteria.

  17. Chris Dudley says:

    These sorts of efforts can be very successful. After 25 years the convictions in the Bhopal disaster are for negligent homicide with two year maximum terms.

    We keep on showing corporations that justice is for sale and they keep buying it….

  18. Raul says:

    Now that tha gulf of oil and despersent is no longer a
    choise place for oil workers statistics show increased
    probility for future disasters and tragedys?

  19. Chris Dudley says:


    Ammonium nitrate might be appropriate at depth since it also carries oxygen which would otherwise be in short supply.

  20. Pavol says:

    I have no paid results showing on my computer.
    Have they stopped it already?