BP's media spend attacked in House

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The Independent US

BP said it has spent more than $5m (£3.3m) a week on advertising since the Gulf Coast oil spill – more than three times the amount it spent during the same period last year.

BP told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that it spent a total of $93m on advertising from April to the end of July. The company says the money was intended to keep Gulf Coast residents informed on issues related to the oil spill and to ensure transparency about its actions. The increased spending was largely targeted at TV, newspapers and magazines. A small portion was directed to the internet.

Representative Kathy Castor, a Florida Democrat who requested the report on BP's spending, said yesterday she was disappointed that the oil company has spent more money "polishing the corporate image" than on helping Gulf Coast states recover from the 20 April explosion and spill. BP said it has spent $89.5m in grants to four Gulf Coast states – Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana – promoting tourism after the spill.

"BP is overdoing it," with advertising focused heavily on states directly affected by the oil spill, Castor said. "It's making people angry. Every day you get up and see these full-page ads in every newspaper and the TV ads."

Scott Dean, a BP spokesman, said the money spent on advertising is a relatively small proportion of BP's total expenditure of about $6.1bn so far on the spill. ap