It’s not the kind of luck Procter & Gamble Co. was looking for, but its Dawn dish soap is one of the few brand beneficiaries of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill.
The promotion on DawnSavesWildlife.com has raised nearly $383,000 in donations so far.
Dawn launched a new ad for its wildlife rescue efforts on Earth Day and was still in the midst of a related promotional fundraiser just as the environmental catastrophe was unfolding. Earlier this week, it helped drive the point home further, shipping 1,000 bottles of Dawn to animal rescuers in the Gulf Coast, and plans to follow with another 1,000 by week’s end, said spokeswoman Susan Baba.
Lest P&G be accused of opportunism, the ads and donations are extensions of one of the company’s oldest cause-related marketing programs, now in its fourth decade, which got its original impetus from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Because of Dawn’s longstanding relationship with leading wildlife rescue organizations, the International Bird Rescue and Research Center and the Marine Mammal Center, it has access to the animal rescue efforts near the disaster site that few news organizations have, so it began sending news flashes about the first bird rescues today via its Facebook fan page with more than 140,000 fans, and Twitter account, a newer effort with under 200 followers.
Dawn hasn’t made any plans to increase weight behind its current ad from Publicis Groupe’s Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, showing an oil-soaked bird being washed with dish soap, Ms. Baba said, but is considering adding a tag related to the Gulf disaster and directing people to Dawn’s Facebook page for more information.
The brand was already in the home stretch of a promotion launched last summer in which it donates $1 for every specially marked bottle of dish soap registered at DawnSavesWildlife.com. The site, from Barefoot Proximity, Cincinnati, a unit of Omnicom’s BBDO, lists nearly $383,000 in donations so far, broken down by state and Canadian province.
Dawn donates soap to aid cleanups following every oil spill, as well as routinely to help rescue organizations clean birds fouled by less-publicized cases of oil seepage inland, Ms. Baba said. But outside of smaller, less publicized spills in the San Francisco Bay and near South Africa in recent years, nothing has approached the attention brought by this case since the Exxon Valdez, she said. In all, over the years, Dawn has been used to aid in the rescue of more than 60,000 animals since the 1980s.
Besides being timely, the wildlife effort, which the brand has promoted through a variety of TV, print, coupon and digital programs over the decades, is an almost perfect fit with brand equity, Ms. Baba said.
“The beauty of the [organization partnerships] even outside this particular incident is that it allows us to really communicate our product benefit in a way that’s meaningful,” she said. “Dawn is all about tough on grease, mild on skin. Trying to balance those two benefits is sometimes challenging. When you talk about a bird that has a really sensitive internal system but is also covered in this tough grease, it’s a really clear way of articulating our benefit to consumers.”
As BP feverishly works to corral the thousands of gallons of crude oil its damaged well has pumped into the Gulf of Mexico dangerously close to my home in Destin, it is also fighting a major image crisis. But much like trying to clear up the oil oozing in every direction in the Gulf, its PR crisis may also soon turn into an impossible battle — and that is partly due to a successful marketing campaign that pitches the company as environmentally friendly.
What Size is Your Carbon Footprint?
Because BP has long waved the “green” flag, the oil giant seeming so unprepared for a catastrophe of this magnitude puts the ad campaign at odds with reality.
The company’s “Beyond Petroleum” campaign, launched with the help of Ogilvy & Mather almost 10 years ago, was seen as a classic case study for rebranding. Indeed, in an ironic twist, the company was recently named as a finalist for a federal award honoring offshore oil companies displaying “outstanding safety and pollution prevention.”
The disconnect has come off as shocking even to crisis experts, including Harlan Loeb, U.S. director crisis and issues management at Edelman.
“This kind of event should clearly have been contemplated in their crisis simulations,” Mr. Loeb said. “BP is an enormous actor in offshore drilling and exploration and the fact that this kind of event took place, while tragic and horrible, should not leave BP looking totally unprepared.”
Following Toyota’s crisis approach?
If it appears that the company is following Toyota’s crisis playbook, Mr. Loeb said people shouldn’t be too surprised by that. He said BP, much like Toyota, is a very centralized company, which tends to result in a non-efficient and non-comprehensive decision-making process when a crisis strikes.
“It troubles me that as of yesterday the governor of Louisiana was still waiting for a contingency plan from BP,” Mr. Loeb said. “It wouldn’t shock me if the attorneys general of the affected states intervene and pursue BP on some legal front, compelling them to step up with a contingency plan. It’s beginning to spin out of control for them.”
What troubles Mr. Loeb most is that not only does BP lack a visible presence in the news cycle, which it has not managed to get out in front of, but the reports that BP was offering $5,000 settlements to residents if they waived their rights to sue for any damages. “That’s a profoundly disturbing message to have resonating as one of your first public messages,” Mr. Loeb said. “When the public sees the company leading with a legal protection agenda trying to limit legal exposure, it’s not a good thing.
The next shoe to drop is usually the attorney general intervening to remind the company of its obligations. Perception-wise, this is out of control. Operationally it’s an enormous issue but they are not at all visible.”
I know what I will tell them to do with the 5K offer.
The interior of the popular Whale’s Tail beachfront restaurant suffered smoke damage and parts of the roof were left charred after a late-afternoon fire broke out Saturday.
Whale’s Tail is certainly my US Headquarters…because of my schedule I am there every morning at 7 am when I am in the States, watching dolphins play, young surfers trying to catch our miniscule waves and enjoying french toast served by a bevy of Ukrainian waitresses. This is a real blow to my operation!
South Walton Fire District Deputy Chief Sean Hughes said the restaurant and other businesses on Scenic Gulf Drive had been having intermittent problems with power throughout the day. He said the fire was likely “electrical in nature” and that the 10-15 mph winds had fanned the flames.
Around 4:55 p.m., the power came back on after an outage and “the staff noticed that there was some power arcing above the ice machine in the back of the kitchen, and they noticed some flames above the ice machine,” he said.
“They evacuated the building and called 911, and when our units arrived, they saw smoke issuing from the building.”
Dozens of firefighters from South Walton and Destin were at the scene, including two ladder trucks. A fire marshal was en route to the scene to investigate the fire as firefighters sprayed streams of water on a small fire still flickering out from beneath several shingles on the roof. Dozens of spectators watched while several firefighters pulled hoses to the top deck while police secured the scene with yellow tape.
Terry Parker, a Miramar Beach resident, was inside the restaurant when the fire broke out and commented on how long it seemed to take for firefighters to arrive. And once they did arrive, “they had no water pressure.”
“The firefighters had two cooks helping them run the water hoses,” added Chris Pierce, a Santa Rosa Beach resident.
Hughes said the restaurant – a completely wooden structure – has been standing for at least 30 years and weathered both hurricanes and tornadoes. The fact that it had rained for three days prior to the fire, leaving the outside of the wooden structure wet, Parker said, was probably its “saving grace.”
My home is usually Destin, Florida even though I am working most of the year in Tokyo. Destin, Florida is a great place to unwind after dealing with 20 million plus each day in Tokyo and a city that REALLY never sleeps.
My friend Nick just sent me these shots…very unusual to see a whale there…sharks yes but whales…
The complete story is in my local newspaper, the Destin Log.
Video, a bit long waiting for the whale to surface!