The BP Twitter parody that remains unplugged
A Twitter page mocking BP's actions over the oil spill, doesn't follow Twitter parody guidelines, yet it has a larger following than BP's official page.
Perhaps you are one of the more than 45,000 people currently following a Twitter page called Twitter.com/BPGlobalPR. This, for those who are wading, rather than sailing, through the week, is not an officially sanctioned site.
You see, it been created by those who believe that BP is a company polluted by venal perpetrators of environmental disaster.
Hark at its first tweet, which was offered on May 19: "We regretfully admit that something has happened off of the Gulf Coast. More to come." Soon, this Twitter page, purporting to represent the folks who are "Beyond Petroleum," went beyond PR.
"Think about it this way, the ocean is like root beer and oil is like ice cream. We just made America a giant root beer float!" it offered. Within just a few short hours, the writers felt they might be at the heart of a gushing phenomenon: "Sadly we can no longer certify our oil as Dolphin Safe."
Within three short days, the auteurs offered: "You know what they say about the ocean...Once it goes black it never goes back! JOKING--the water is brown."
Sadly, not everyone appreciated the humor. "so you F*** up MY state and its' ecosystem, it's prime money maker and natural barrier from storms, and you make JOKES about it?" wrote an ardent Arden Ballard.
But the alert, public-spirited writers behind this slick Twitter page replied: "I'm sorry you're upset, DM me your address and I'll send you a free "BP Cares" T-shirt. Shipping not included."
The writers are clearly very PR alert, having even offered Wired a pungent put-down. Wired, you see, tweeted: "Seen the @BPGlobalPR feed? Funny or too dark? The right kind of truthy or the wrong kind culture jamming?"
BPGlobalPR replied: "@wired isn't sure what they think of us. We think that they're the People magazine for iPad dads. What a bunch of pickledicks. #bpcares."
CNN did contact BP and asked the company whether it might feel its image was being polluted by this rogue global PR force. BP reportedly said it had seen it, but was sure that people would realize it's not really the company's work.
Perhaps this underestimates people's notions of what is and isn't possible in today's often ugly, cynical world.
Still, I know there will be sticklers among you who will attempt to invoke Twitter's fake pages policy. It reads that impersonators "should not be the exact name of the subject of the parody, commentary, or fandom; to make it clearer, you should distinguish the account with a qualifier such as 'not,' 'fake' or 'fan.'"
It's unlikely Twitter will get too picky about this, given that it gets some nice PR (happy to help, as always, chaps) out of it all, and given that BP seems unlikely to complain. BP has made its first wise PR move in allowing this site to gush black humor while the nation's beaches are threatened by a far more painful darkness.
After all, does BP really have any rational defense against this fake Twitter page's existence? There are enough birds being killed already for it not to be necessary that one more tweeter be immolated. It also means that BP's own Twitter page, Twitter.com/BP_America, is kept in pristine shape. Its last tweet offered: "Now online claims submission forms available in Vietnamese http://bit.ly/a0zq3N and Spanish http://bit.ly/bbxxQs #oilspill #bp."
While the fictional "Terry" who is behind BPGlobalPR has not yet revealed himself, those with a real and unremitting commitment to the fine art of black humor can only hope for one thing: that he actually works in the BP PR department.