BP

Nothing but hot air from BP. New chief Bernard Looney made global headlines Feb. 12, announcing an ambitious goal to eradicate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.

The environmental community applauded the move. Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said the net-zero goal is “a welcome benchmark against which its future investment decisions will be judged.”

He praised Looney for “starting BP on the journey towards carbon neutrality and policy leadership.”

That journey quickly got detoured. 

As part of BP’s review of climate policies, the energy giant said Feb. 26 that it is withdrawing from three US trade groups (American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Western States Petroleum Assn. and Western Energy Alliance) because they aren’t aligned with the new climate action focus of the company.

“BP will pursue opportunities to work with organizations who share our ambitious and progress approach to the energy transition,” said Looney in a statement.

That apparently includes the powerful American Petroleum Institute, the most effective mouthpiece of Big Oil with annual revenues of $200M.

BP said it will remain “partially aligned” with stodgy old API. That's a cop-out.

Mike Sommers, API chief, has made it plain that his 600-member organization has no plans to walk in the same green fields as BP.

He famously said “the P in API is petroleum,” which is pretty ironic from the standpoint of BP, which officially changed its name from British Petroleum in 2000 to reposition as a global environmentally aware corporation.

The API supports the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama’s limits on methane gas leaks from oil and gas producers. BP wants the limits to remain in place.

Looney should have ditched the 100-year-old API, which would have signaled that BP means business on the zero-emissions pledge while silencing critics who dismiss its climate action vow as just more greenwashing.

He took a half-hearted measure instead, promising an ongoing process of monitoring trade association memberships.

Looney blew it.

Speaking of a quitting a trade group, MSL is dumping its membership in the PR Council. In this case, it’s not about policy but about dollars and cents.

MSL said it cannot fit the PRC’s $50K fee into its 2020 budget.

As part of France’s Publicis Groupe, which generated $12B in fiscal 2019 revenues, one would think that $50K for MSL is the equivalent of coins found in the cushions of an old couch.

PR, though, hardly registers on the radar of analytics obsessed Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun. In October, he fired MSL Group chief Guillaume Herbette and eliminated the CEO position. That's hardly a ringing endorsement of PR.

Meanwhile, MSL isn’t exactly hitting it out of the PR ballpark these days. The PR Council will survive its departure.

Blast off. Boston’s Version 2.0 Communications has changed its name to V2 Communications or V2 for short to illustrate the dynamic PR agency that it has become, according to co-founders Maura Fitzgerald and Jean Serra.

V2 is an unfortunate choice of a name.

The V-2 rocket, which was the world’s first guided missile, was developed by Nazi Germany during WWII as a vengeance weapon to attack Allied cities in retaliation for their bombing of German cities. More than 3,000 V-2s hit London, Antwerp and Liege, killing thousands of civilians and military personnel. 

Following the collapse of Germany, more than 100 members of the V-2 team, included Wernher von Braun surrendered to the US and then developed America’s ballistic missile program and later rockets for NASA.

Good luck with the new name, V2 Communications. I prefer the old moniker.