There’s an established rule in crisis communications that you round-up your allies and stand together — sink or swim, but both human or corporate sacrifice is frowned upon as poor sportsmanship.
That rule was cast aside Monday by BP CEO Tony Hayward who threw his Gulf of Mexico drilling vendor Transocean Ltd. directly into the deep water saying, “The drilling rig was a Transocean drilling rig. It was their rig and their equipment that failed, run by their people, their processors.”
Oh Mr. Hayward? How do you feel about companies or people you really dislike? In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, Mr. Hayward went on to point out that Transocean owned the giant Deepwater Horizon platform and that BP was merely a lessee. While accepting the burden of paying for clean up costs one has to wonder what Hayward was thinking? Why was he sitting on national television dissing what until last week was considered a valued partner to BP’s global operations?
So much for loyalty. So much for corporate responsibility. Hayward could be laying the framework for a legal defense to put as much of the blame, the harsh light of public recrimination and ultimately the public memory onto the shoulders of his Swiss partner Transocean. To this observer it appears a flimsy and transparent attempt to add to the slimy oil slick also known as the ever-expanding blame game.
Kudos to Mr. Hayward – he appeared sincere and forthright. He was well-trained and prepared. But his statements left real doubt as to the corporate courage and conviction of BP… and I bet the blame will be shared by many more before the well or this story is capped.