Everyone's seen the advertisements on television or in the newspapers, or heard them on the radio.
BP pledging to make everything right.
Now we know how much the company spent on its public-relations campaign after it was responsible for 172 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.
BP forked out more than $93 million on advertising between April and the end of July of this year, according to federal lawmakers.
That's triple the amount the oil company spent during the same time period a year ago and equates to an expenditure of about $5 million a week.
"It's offensive to see the ads,'' said Keith Overton, chairman of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and also the senior vice president and chief operating officer of the TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach. "It's even more offensive to see how much money they have spent.''
The figures were made available to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor today from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations after she requested the probe into BP spending.
"BP's extensive advertising campaign that is solely focused on polishing its corporate image in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon blowout disaster is making people angry,'' Castor said in a news release. "As small businesses, fishermen, and mom and pop motels, hotels and restaurants struggle to make ends meet, they are bombarded by BP's corporate marketing largess day after day.
"BP should be doing more to address the damage to the Gulf Coast tourism industry, fishing industry, and for researchers and for the taxpayers,'' the congresswoman added.
Overton, who is waiting to hear the status of a $1.7 million claim for shortfall in revenues at the TradeWinds, agreed.
"They are more concerned about self-preservation than making the businesses whole that they have affected,'' Overton said. "They are concerned about their stock prices. I understand that. But just pay the claims and that will solve a lot of the problems.''
The increased spending was targeted almost entirely at national and local newspapers and magazines, along with national and local television advertising, said the letter sent to Castor from U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman and U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak.
From April to the end of July 2009, the company ran local newspaper advertisements in two states and the District of Columbia. In the same time period this year, BP ran local newspaper advertisements in 126 markets in 17 states, the letter said.
"While BP's advertising campaign ramped up, businesses and the Gulf communities struggled to deal with the costs of the disaster. While BP's advertising campaign is being executed like clockwork, business and state claims have languished," Castor said. "While BP certainly has the right to advertise, its approach has been insensitive to the taxpayers and business owners harmed by the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
"BP should use a significant portion of its advertising dollars to ease the strain on Florida small businesses that rely on tourism," the congresswoman added. "Some of the focus should be devoted to marketing and advertising to promote the beautiful, pristine beaches of Florida and give a boost to our struggling tourism economy."
The April 20 explosion and collapse of the BP rig off the Louisiana coastline became the nation's worst oil disaster ever, and greatly affected the tourism industry in Florida and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast.