Media Guy Extra

Twittersphere Goes Ballistic Over BP CEO's Yacht-Race PR Gaffe

Tony Hayward Extends His, Uh, Winning Streak as Twitter's Public Enemy No. 1

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On Saturday, rather astonishingly, BP CEO Tony Hayward decided to go watch his yacht, named "Bob," circle the Isle of Wight in the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. (Bob took fourth place.) The company defended the getaway as "a rare moment of private time" for the embattled chief, but the symbolism, of course, couldn't have been more appalling, given the ecological devastation BP's oil spill continues to inflict in the wake of the April explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers.

Tony Hayward
Tony Hayward Credit: BP
For an executive who seems to specialize in jaw-dropping insensitivity and tone-deafness -- the BBC helpfully provides a worst-of in its "BP boss Tony Hayward's gaffes" round-up -- it was a new low. You get the sense that if Hayward were CEO of a fast-food chain, he wouldn't hesitate to throw a festive backyard BBQ right after a horrific, deadly kitchen fire at a franchisee.

Perhaps BP presumed that the yacht-race getaway would be less noticed given that it was held on a Saturday, when the news cycle tends to rev down a bit. Guess again. The Twittersphere never rests. Over the weekend, I manned the internet barricades, monitoring reactions on Twitter to the Tony & Bob Show. Click through the slide show below for a sampling of the voice of the tweeple (including pop star Michelle Branch). Note: Before the name of Hayward's yacht was widely reported, someone started the Twitter hashtag meme #HaywardsYachtName; a few of those tweets are included for good measure.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.
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