So long, farewell… Buh-bye Tony

BP CEO Tony Hayward is a marked man emerging as America’s latest leading corporate villain.  He’s the new poster boy for what not to say in a crisis.  His apparent self-focus that “he wants his life back” pits his desire for normalcy against the loss of 11 workers in the fire and sinking of the Transocean rig.  One might imagine their families would like those lives back too.

Tony, you’re doomed man. Say goodbye.  It’s all now a matter of time… you’ve been tar and feathered, smeared in oil.  When you now appear on camera the common reaction is to throw darts or change the channel.  In a world where trust and believability, credibility and likability rule… you’re sinking like a rock.

It seems truly amazing that – for some one who teaches crisis management -BP continues to make mistakes, missteps, misstatements 45 days in to the disaster.  The failure to explain what would be deemed “legitimate” claims before Congress in the earliest days of the story is today compounded by an artful, expensive PR campaign that features Hayward and his cabal of advisors doing the ‘best they can’ all the while oil gushes from the pipe.  Isn’t there an inherent contradiction in all this… are they really doing the best job they can?  Difficult admittedly, but not a success by a long shot.

The real lesson remains the experience of Valdez, Alaska.  Twenty one years after Exxon ran their tanker onto Bligh Reef there is still an oily residue just under the rocks along the shoreline of Prince William Sound.  Droplets of oil abound in the water, in pools, coating the underside of rocks that cover that shore.  Billions of dollars spent and tens of thousands of man hours invested in clean up have failed to restore, entirely restore, the waterways and shoreline.  Yes the sound is healthier than some doom and naysayers predicted, but it is not without lasting injury.  It would seem evident that a similar fate awaits the gulf coast and possibly other eastern beaches and the communities that depend upon the water for food, tourism, attraction and livelihood.

So as we watch for the expected outcome — Hayward will walk the plank with a shove from the BP board; the company will lose its financial luster and ultimately file for court protection or receivership to protect its reduced and falling assets.  Thousands of workers will lose jobs and homes; alcoholism will rise… abuse, domestic violence, divorce all soared in Valdez and the surrounding communities too.  Suits and class action filings for worker compensation due to illness stemming from the clean up will clog the courts the way the oil stifles marine life on marshes today.  Perhaps even years from now medical claims, lung and other injuries will continue to haunt local residents and their families, perhaps too even birth defects.  This will be a petri dish for health, injury and litigation for generations.  Within this year I predict BP and it’s eco-friendly logo will be replaced with a new name and consumer  brand, as if that is sufficient to hide the experience from the public’s memory.
Sadly it doesn’t take scientist to see where this mess is headed… admittedly it’s a bona fide crisis.  Hayward may become the fall guy but the corporation and those who are advising it deserve some of the blame for the handling of the story.   Black oil, corporate greed… mistakes and mishandling.  Dishonesty.  Shame.

Author: Peter Shaplen Productions

More than four decades of experience as a journalist, producer, reporter, writer and professor of news, corporate production, crisis management.

3 thoughts on “So long, farewell… Buh-bye Tony”

  1. James Cameron is outraged that they refused his assistance in getting cameras down to the site to see what is happening. BP has it’s own camera, which is only showing a tiny part of the problem. And they have used this video to determine the amount of oil leaking. And we all know they lied to the government about it. Far more oil is coming out than they initially stated.

    Cameron might not be the nicest person but he is THE expert in deep sea filming. He helped speed up the development of, and greatly improved the submersible submarines and cameras in use today. And he shoots shipwrecks that are twice as deep as the oil well.

    Major mistakes at every stage. They could not have expected this level of a disaster and they have tried the most obvious solutions, none of which have worked.

    But they have lied to everyone and have refused the assistance of the top experts in differing fields.

    And they have refused to use all possible means to stop the oil from reaching land, such as empty oil tankers with giant vacuums that suck up the oil. They have been successfully used in other massive oil spills.

    Some people are calling for Obama to take over the company. Not a bad idea.

  2. I think the other shame comes in with the fact that no one trusts “leaders” to take care of this. No one trusts the government’s ability to oversee this or to take charge of it. We do not trust because its been proven just how hazardous to our health trust in political figures can be.

    Disillusioned citizens will contribute to this crisis because we’ll turn our TV’s off, throw our hands in the air and figure there’s nothing we can do. When we do keep the TV on we’ll listen to lies being spun and keep those lies close to our heart so we can point to it later and say, “This is why I’m inactive in my community.” The disillusioned will contribute to this disaster and that too is shameful. This one companies failure will feed the greed of others and fill up those already brimming with anger and mistrust.


  3. Part of me feels sorry for Tony. He has been thrown into a completely different culture and is now seeing just how brutal our politics can be.

    Truthfully, no matter what he said he was a marked man. Congress is looking for soundbites and do not give a damn what he says. He was honest with them and they still raked him over the coals.

    At the same time we forget that the well did not fail. The rig exploded and sank, which caused the pipeline to break, which caused the leak.

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