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British Petroleum outed by blogger for fake crisis centre photo

BP crisis centre after photo
  This image of BP's oil crisis response centre prompted blogger
  John Aravosis to call the company out for major Photoshop retouching.  
   And bad retouching at that. (BP p.l.c.)

Earlier this week, British Petroleum (BP) added to its list of public relations embarassments by releasing a doctored photo of its Houston oil crisis communications response centre.

Originally reported by John Aravosis on AMERICAblog, the story has since made Washington Post headline news, and provided forums of Photoshop professionals with comic fodder, like this thread at Graphic Design Forum "BP needs Photoshoppers."

Apparently BP, trying to cover up the fact there were no images displayed on its crisis centre monitors, used the popular image editing tool Photoshop to enhance the image by "filling in the blanks" with older photos.

However, the company has inadvertently raised more questions by their, well, questionable actions. In his blog posts, Aravosis makes a persuasive argument against the image's authenticity, including that metadata attached to the image has a 2001 time stamp. He also points out several indications of sloppy photo editing.

BP oil crisis centre after image
  BP has since replaced the image with this photo, which is said to be the
  original, unretouched. (BP p.l.c.)

 BP blames photographer for showing off his Photoshop skills

BP has since replaced the image with what the company claims to be the original photo, citing a company photographer as the culprit.  

An official spokesperson made the unfortunate comment that the individual was "showing off his Photoshop skills," enough to make any professional image manipulator either cringe in disbelief or fall over laughing.

Frankly, it is hard to determine which is more lame, BP's botched attempt to improve their image (both figuratively and literally) or their argumentation.  

Either way, the outcome remains the same: BP continues to prove the one thing they are good at is digging themselves deeper and deeper into a public relations black hole.

Social Media not only provides even more communications outlets and eyeballs questioning their actions, but it's bloggers like John Aravosis who are scooping major media. And amplifying coverage through posts like this one.

It is a sad commentary that, with each passing day, the case for BP's ineptness "only gets better and better."

Perhaps it's time for BP to just stop communicating all together and focus on getting the job done.

For more information:
AMERICAblog on Twitter
BP can't do anything right: Now it's photoshopping images
BP admits photoshopping image

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Alison Cummings is a Web Strategy consultant and Social Media blogger based in Montreal. You can find her on Twitter @alisoncummings and Facebook.


  • montreal women's issues, health and mental health 4 years ago

    it is just one thing after another

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