Slogan Doctor: BP - 'beyond petroleum'

'Beyond Petroleum', introduced by BP in 2000, was not so much a slogan as a new identity. Written by David Fowler of ad agency Ogilvy, it dumped the baggage that comes with being called British and, with the new sunflower logo, hinted at a future based on something more appealing than pumping oil out of the ground and burning it. BP was the first oil company to accept the reality of climate change, and it invests in renewable power sources. But to go 'beyond' is to go to the far side of something - leaving it behind. 'Beyond Petroleum' is the language of environmentalism: in the late 1990s, the Rainforest Action Network ran a campaign called 'Beyond Oil'. But BP has never been about that, as Greenpeace and others pointed out. It spent more on promoting its new image than it did on renewable power. Its 'brand promise' insists 'Beyond Petroleum' doesn't mean abandoning oil. It means 'new ways in which to produce and supply oil and gas' and an interest in new fuels; but these are in 'an R&D phase' - and likely to stay there. Beyond Petroleum? Basically Preposterous.

by John Morrish
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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