“They might not blatantly lie in the ad, but the true story is far less shiny, and far more troubling,” said Aaron Viles of the Gulf Restoration Network, a New Orleans-based environmental group.
He said the spill might have caused a decrease in shrimp harvests and abnormalities in killifish, a minnow. He noted that oil was still marring some marshes and was buried under some beaches. He also said the US Congress had not done enough to regulate offshore drilling and assure the long-term recovery of the Gulf.
“BP needs to put these facts in their ads,” Viles said.
“They should be a little more apologetic and less triumphant,” said George Crozier, an oceanographer and former director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama.
However, Crozier said many others were guilty of “spin” just like BP, including scientists and environmentalists who tried, for their own reasons, to push the notion that the oil spill had devastated the Gulf.
Crozier said the spill’s effects had not been as devastating as many argued they would be.
“The beaches are people-safe, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “I thought there was a hysterical reaction to tar balls — unless we started eating them.”
BP spokesman Tom Mueller said the ad campaign was highlighting “facts,” not “anecdotes.”
“When you look at the tourism numbers, heads in beds, revenues, are generally up,” he said. “There are some exceptions, but when you step back and look at the coast as a whole, the tourism industry is recovering.”
BP’s commitment to the Gulf was sincere, he said, noting that the company set aside US$500 million for independent scientific research into the spill.
“We are honoring our commitment here in helping to promote the Gulf Coast and Gulf seafood and doing our best to help the region recover,” he said. “As Iris says in the ads, we have more work to do, and BP as a company fully recognizes that there is more work to be done.”