Anti-BP Protesters Make Cameo Appearance in Pro-BP Ad

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It might be lesson one of putting together any ad spot: scrub away anything that might make your company look bad. Especially if your company already looks bad.

But in its latest ad, which promotes the company’s continuing cleanup efforts after the Gulf Coast oil spill, BP apparently missed the shot that shows a group of anti-BP protesters picketing against the oil company.

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The BP ad marks the company’s first presence on the airwaves since late 2010. The 60-second spot, airing nationally since December 26th, touts the company’s “ongoing commitment” to cleaning up the spill. But amid the gorgeous sunsets and wildlife images, the ad accidentally draws attention to a group of people expressing a complete opposite opinion. As BP’s External Relations Manager Iris Cross enthusiastically explains that many Gulf towns are having their “best tourism season in years,” the camera pans over the packed 40th Annual National Shrimp Festival, held each year in Gulf Shores, Ala.


And in the back of the shot, barely visible on the beach, is a throng of protesters. They make a two-second cameo, hardly visible in the wide-angle shot, but close-up pictures posted after the ad aired prove that the ant-sized figures (seen in the above video from 0:47-0:49) were indeed the Alabama Oil Spill Aftermath Coalition, who set up a tent and brought their banners to the Shrimp Festival to protest that not enough had been done to clean up the spill.

Naturally, when they saw cameras filming, they tried to insert themselves into the shot. “I, like the rest of the protestors, assumed they were media filming the crowds at the festival,” protest organizer Michele Harmon told the Houston Chronicle‘s FuelFix blog. BP has not yet commented nor has it changed or pulled the ad. Considering the hundreds of millions spent by BP on post-spill PR, this tiny slip-up is one rather large oversight.

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