Let’s play make believe: Imagine you’re a massive energy company facing a big PR headache over an oil spill caused by a broken pipeline right in the middle of Arkansas. Now imagine that you really, really don’t want everyone in the country to know about the terrible accident and your response to it.
Exxon has a funny way of ensuring positive press coverage. First company representatives refused to release details about March’s Mayflower oil spill, prompting the state attorney general to present them with an official deadline. Then the Exxon team created literal media barriers at the site and forbid reporters to cross or even approach the lines with the apparent blessing of the state government. (One local radio reporter who visited the site in the company of the very same attorney general reported that sheriff’s deputies told reporters to leave or risk being arrested.) That’s not all: Exxon also convinced the FAA to institute a no-fly zone over the spill site before clearing news copters to enter the space as long as they asked Exxon “aviation expert” Tom Suhrhoff for permission first.
This story got us thinking… what was that old, dusty document everyone talks about that contained some reference to freedom of the press?
We understand that Exxon considers all journalists its enemies and would prefer to avoid media coverage not provided by company press releases. But now its spokespeople have accused multiple journalists of lying about being threatened on site, and you’ll have to pardon us if we take those charges with a massive grain of kosher sea salt.
We could debate the individual accusations and counterspin all day, but we think you’ll agree that the story is a big PR Fail for the oil giant…and a big PR win for Bounty!
Our favorite part of this crazy story concerns the fact that video from the spill site clearly shows that someone used massive wads of paper towels in an attempt to collect some of the oil. As big fans of quality household goods, we know that only Bounty products could handle all those carcinogens, because no one can beat their “double quilted” technology.
We can see the campaign now: “Exxon didn’t trust anyone to report on its latest big oil spill, but it did trust our patented double quilted paper towels to clean up the mess!”
Somebody get on that.