Disclaimer: this has nothing to do with China.
There are very few things that we Americans can agree on in such polarizing times. That being said, I implore you to find me one person who doesn’t believe that Tony Hayward is a massive idiot for the way he’s handled the Gulf oil crisis. It’s exceedingly rare for a public figure to be hated as much as Mr. Hayward at this current point in history and under normal circumstances, he should have lost his job a long time ago. So why has BP kept him around?
Of course the best way for BP to handle this with minimal damage to their public image would have been to immediately assume responsibility while publicly demonstrating that they were willing to do everything in their power to stop it. Unfortunately, they tried to play it off like it was no big deal and by the time they realized that it was about to become the worst environmental disaster in the history of mankind, it was too late to change their minds. It seemed like every time they tried to make amends, they only made things worse. Mr. Hayward was giving notoriously awful interviews left and right, then there was that terrible commercial starring his ugly mug and all the while the well continued to spew toxic oil into the gulf; containment efforts be damned. BP’s stock has lost over 40% of its value since the beginning of the spill and is only recently showing signs of improvement since the well was successfully capped. Tony Hayward’s reputation however, seemingly could not be worse if you paid him to be terrible.
Wait a minute, now there’s an idea! Paying Tony Hayward to be terrible. After all, what did BP have to lose? Their reputation as a company is already so far gone that no amount of good PR could save it. But what if they were somehow able to pin the blame on one person? Well it just so happens that Tony was the perfect man to take the fall. And it’s not as if his fall would be particularly painful; when it’s his time to go, I’m sure he’ll be pushed out of the back of the plane with a golden parachute (much like Senate candidate Carly Fiorina of HP notoriety).
It’s been rumored that Mr. Hayward is departing his post as CEO of BP when the board meets on Monday. This speculation has been backed by multiple sources including a government official who spoke only on the condition of anominity (source: AP). These mere rumors were enough to prompt a 2.2% increase in its stock price on the London Stock Exchange. Once they are officially rid of him, they will have an opportunity to reinvent themselves almost immediately: “Yeah, we know we screwed up, but that was all Tony’s fault! This new guy is better, we promise.” You can bet that as soon as Mr. Hayward is replaced, BP will step up its game exponentially. With the well capped and its past blunders behind it, it will finally be able to change its logo and rebrand itself once more in order to continue making billions of untaxable dollars in profits until all the world’s oil reserves have been depleted. Sigh.