As BP continues to fumble the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, many Americans have decided to protest BP by boycotting gas stations around the country. Business owners responded by arguing that such moves were hurting their profits while not affecting the parent company, since the vast majority of the 10,000 BP stations in the country and independently owned and operated.
Some BP station owners are now trying to get this message out by putting up signs saying they are “part of the community.” However, these don’t appear to be homemade signs; the exact same ones have been spotted in multiple locations. A ThinkProgress reader sent in the first picture below, taken at a gas station in DC’s Logan Circle neighborhood. The one on the right was posted on the blog Energy Tomorrow — run by the American Petroleum Institute — and is located in northern Virginia:
ThinkProgress contacted an employee at the gas station in northern Virginia, who confirmed that BP sent them the sign to use. So ironically, in an attempt to distance itself from the parent company, these BP stations are using corporate signs.
BP needs to do more than offer pieces of paper to its local gas stations, which are bearing the brunt of a national boycott launched in response to the actions of the parent corporation. According to the AP, BP gas station owners are getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of support they’re receiving:
Station owners and BP gas distributors told BP officials last week they need a break on the cost of the gas they buy, and they want help paying for more advertising aimed at motorists, according to John Kleine, executive director of the independent BP Amoco Marketers Association. The station owners, who earn more from sales of soda and snacks than on gasoline, also want more frequent meetings with BP officials.
“They have got to be more competitive on their fuel costs to the retailers so we can be competitive on the street…and bring back customers that we’ve lost,” says Bob Juckniess, who has seen sales drop 20 percent at some of his 10 BP-branded stations in the Chicago area.
Many people have begun questioning how much of an effect a boycott of BP gas stations will really have on the parent corporation. Boycotts certainly heavily hurt small business owners — many of whom have very few ties to BP and make most of their money from convenience store items — but they can also influence investors and convince them to sell their shares or put pressure on the company to clean up its act.
Are you seeing signs like these at your local BP station? If so, send photos of them to us.
Public Citizen President Robert Weissman tells the Guardian that it’s disingenuous for BP gas stations to try to separate themselves from the corporation: “BP’s franchisees enter into agreements with BP because they want to benefit from an attachment to the BP brand. If consumers are told they can’t take action against wrongdoers like BP, that’s an immunity for large corporations from the consequences of their actions.”
,TP reader PL points out that the signs have made their way to Iowa too, as the Des Moines Register reports. The paper also notes that “BP gave them to the retailers to post since the oil spill.”
,The AP reports that BP says it plans to give gas stations money, “reductions in credit card fees and help with more national advertising.” Part of this effort is a “‘Locally Owned, Locally Operated’ media and marketing support such as point of purchase signage, radio, flyers, posters and postcards.”
,TP reader Chris sends in a sign from a station in Milwaukee and writes, “I have also seen BP’s with the digital signage out front stating that they are locally owned, the owners name, and their city of residence. There must be a significant hit to business to go to such lengths”: