Last night, a person who identified him or herself as “Leroy Stick” took responsibility for the fake @BPGlobalPR Twitter account, whose satirical stabs at BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak have earned widespread media attention and more than 100,000 followers. While “Leroy Stick” is still a pseudonym — the writer explains its meaning in a long, folksy anecdote about a stick for beating away a mean mutt named Leroy — the essay provides a revealing, largely serious look at a surprisingly resonant humorous attempt to deal with a global crisis.
From the essay:
I started @BPGlobalPR, because the oil spill had been going on for almost a month and all BP had to offer were bullshit PR statements. No solutions, no urgency, no sincerity, no nothing. That’s why I decided to relate to the public for them. I started off just making jokes at their expense with a few friends, but now it has turned into something of a movement. As I write this, we have 100,000 followers and counting. People are sharing billboards, music, graphic art, videos and most importantly information. [emphasis added]
Why has this caught on? I think it’s because people can smell the bullshit and sometimes laughing at it feels better than getting angry or depressed over it. At the very least, it’s a welcome break from that routine. The reason@BPGlobalPR continues to grow is because BP continues to spew their bullshit.
Leroy Stick also dismisses notions that this is all a personal brand-building, book deal-seeking publicity stunt, and reveals that he (or she) has donated $10,000 to relief efforts in the Gulf. As for BP’s “brand”:
You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand? Have a respectable brand. Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions. Lead the pack! Evolve! Don’t send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President. Hire those workers to actually work! Don’t dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better. Collect the oil and get it out of the water! Don’t tell your employees that they can’t wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture. Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem. Lastly, don’t keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it. This isn’t just your disaster, this is a human tragedy. Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.
Surprisingly earnest, thought-provoking words from a Twitter jokester. The full essay is well worth the read.