Scott Neuman of NPR asked me about the possible boycotts of the BP brand. I explained that brand is not a driver for people buying gas. Location is most important. People will literally not drive across a median to reach a gas station on the other side of the street if there is one conveniently located on their side of the road. Price is also a huge driver.
Can the BP brand survive this accident? Of course. Brands have done worse things on purpose and continue to thrive. Allianz, the insurance giant, covered the Nazi guards of Auschwitz, but to this day refuses to pay the claims of thousands of Jewish customers. Bayer manufactured the Zyklon-B gas that Nazis used to kill millions of Jews during the Holocaust. Top executive Fritzter Meer was sentenced to seven years prison by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, but resumed his career as chairman of the board of the company in 1956 upon his release. More recently, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley don’t seem to be suffering from multiple serious criminal investigations.
The BP brand can survive this disaster. The bigger question is will the company survive. That is a far less certain thing.