BP: Beyond Petroleum?

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Length: 28 pages
Product ID#: 1-429-229

Core Disciplines: Ethics, Marketing/Sales, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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British Petroleum (BP), one of the world’s largest oil companies, had spent over $200 million rebranding itself as environmentally responsible, with the tagline “Beyond Petroleum.” However, after the catastrophic 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, the company’s name seemed to be permanently tarnished. Through a deep dive into all events of the spill, this case study asks students to determine: what should BP do now? Newly appointed CEO Bob Dudley inherited a company that faced billions of dollars in damages, a furious public, and an irate US government. The “Beyond Petroleum” campaign that was successfully undertaken in 2000 was now the focus of derision and disbelief. As CEO, Dudley must repair the company’s image, re-establish some level of trust with government, and convince investors that BP will return to profitability.This case was written by MBA candidates Jonathan Huynh, Jacob Kapitan, Satish Katpally, Ben Pierce, and Ben Pierson, under the supervision of Professor Andrew Hoffman.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Evaluate the types of businesses that are appropriate to promote sustainability efforts, and when sustainability promotion will cause more risk than benefit.
  • Determine the level of commitment to sustainability needed to brand a firm as committed to sustainability.
  • Analyze whether BP was guilty of “greenwashing.”