BP's Disaster Containment Plan: Throw Plenty of Money at Google

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When it comes to containing the damage from the worst oil spill in history, BP will spare no expense --- on public relations, that is. Its latest move: Throw as much money as possible to buy up Google ads, as a way to route people to a Web site that is long on deception and spin, and short on the truth.

Reuters reports that BP is flooding Google with money to buy ads:

"so its own website would rank higher or even top in the list of advertisements that appear alongside search results when Internet users search on terms such as 'oil spill,' 'volunteer' and 'claims.'

Do some searches yourself and you'll see the results. This morning, several searches for 'oil spill' had a BP ad at the top of the search results, followed by an ad by its best friend, the American Petroleum Institute, which is disguised as a blog. You can see the results, below.

Note the spin, even in the descriptive text for the links --- "Info about the Gulf of Mexico Spill Learn More about How BP is Helping."

President Obama has previously criticized BP's overall $50 million TV PR blitz. As for how much money BP is spending on Google, the company isn't talking. And, of course, BP says that the money isn't being spent to help BP's image, but rather as a kind of public service. A BP spokesman explained the Google ad buy this way to Reuters:

"We know people are looking for those terms on our website and we're just trying to make it easier for them to get directly to those terms."

The BP site is chock full of press releases, and pretty pictures of people involved in the oil cleanup. Notably missing are any pictures of the oil spill itself, of oil-drenched wetlands, or of birds dying from the effects of the spill. All in all, it makes the worst oil disaster in U.S. history look as if it's a pleasant way for people to spend a friendly Sunday afternoon together doing volunteer work on pristine beaches.

BP and its oil buddies aren't the only ones buying ads on Google, of course. And one ad that appears just below BP's when you search for "gulf oil spill" shows that BP may be paying for this spill for years. It's from a site called GulfOilClaim.com. It heads you to a Web site of laywers looking to represent anyone affected by the spill.

This story, "BP's Disaster Containment Plan: Throw Plenty of Money at Google" was originally published by Computerworld.

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