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Friday June 18 2010

I learn from this posting at Instapundit, where a bit from the Economist is quoted, that “BP” stopped calling itself “British Petroleum” in 1998.

This is ridiculous.  If you don’t want people to think you’re “British Petroleum” then it is not enough to drop the name “British Petroleum”; you have to dump the initials “BP” as well.  You have to call yourself something completely different.  That way people might eventually forget about you ever having been BP equals British Petroleum.  If, on the other hand, you persist with “BP”, people are always going to ask: So what does “BP” stand for?  Claiming that it does not stand for “British Petroleum” even though it did for several decades up until 1998, and that “BP” now stands for absolutely nothing is ridiculous.  Someone will always remember the answer, even if BP aka British Petroleum pretends it has forgotten, and BP just looks stupid.

People get paid vast sums to recommend preposterous and doomed subterfuges like this.  Who on earth do they think they are kidding?  They ought to be fined vast sums, as should the slug-brains who took their advice.

I seem to recall BAT once upon a time pretending that BAT did not stand for British American Tobacco, but a little googling reveals that if such foolishness was ever attempted, it has long since been abandoned.

Or as I like to think of them, Anglo Iranian Oil.

What about Esso? SO = Standard Oil. Slightly cleverer.

Posted by Blognor Regis on 20 June 2010

I don’t think BP claim that “BP” doesn’t stand for “British Petroleum”, do they?  Their claim is simply that “British Petroleum” is no longer the brand name of their company.  BT and KFC have done the same thing.  I see it more as simply appropriating and making official the name everyone was calling them anyway. 

Come to think of it, MI5 and MI6 have done it too, and they’ve gone on to keep the abbreviations despite completely changing their full names.

Posted by Squander Two on 23 June 2010

In further news, the electrical retailer that has been known as “DSG International” for a number of years has just renamed itself Dixons, which was what it was named previously. I am not sure if this means that they have decided that renaming most of their stores “Currys” was a mistake and they will be naming some of them back. For some reason they always kept the Dixons name for their airport store. Last time I actually entered one of these, I was accosted at the door on the way out and asked to answer some questions about how I felt about the brand etc, so I now know what that was about.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 24 June 2010

Squander Two

Well, it isn’t entirely clear what “bp” thought they were doing in 1998.  You think one thing.  Others think something different.

Consider this:

“By the time British Petroleum completed its 1998 acronymization to BP, the company had probably spent millions in “brand consultant” fees. It’s an important point, this, because the rebranding was meant to signal that BP is no longer a mere British entity and no longer a mere oil company.”

Here:
http://reason.com/archives/2010/06/23/is-obama-an-anglophobe

If the rebranding wasn’t meant to signal this, then this not-stupid writer (and the one quoted by Instapundit who thought the same) is confused.  And corporate communication surely shouldn’t confuse like this.

If it was meant to signal that BP was no longer just a British Petroleum business, then the “rebranding” fails, because the initials still signal those two things.

The very fact that we’re even arguing about this proves what a muddle this rebranding has been.

However, when two reporters both state with confidence that BP was intending to stop people thinking British Petroleum suggests strongly that it is you who are confused.  Which is not your fault.  I am not surprised you don’t think that BP would think anything as stupid as I think, and these two writers thought, that they actually did and do still think.  You couldn’t believe anything so rich would be so daft.  I agree, it is hard to believe.  But it does seem to be so.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 24 June 2010

Well, Brian, you’re right that the very fact we disagree is itself proof that the rebranding is confusing, which branding should never be.  But you’re wrong to imply that I called you or anyone else “stupid”.

Posted by Squander Two on 24 June 2010

S2.  I didn’t mean to imply any such thing, and if I did apologies.  I entirely accept that you are calling no one stupid.  No, I am the one calling someone stupid.  I call BP stupid.

I speculated that your attempt to explain what they did as not stupid was that you didn’t think them capable of the stupidity that I am accusing them of, namely the stupidity of thinking that if they persist with their old initials, nobody will any longer think about Britishness or Pretroleumness.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 24 June 2010

Ah.

I have a head-cold and am knackered, so should probably be banned from the Interweb due to my current hardofthinkingness. 

Mind you, so should everyone else.

Posted by Squander Two on 25 June 2010
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