Reality Advertising: BP rolls out $20M branding effort

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Imagine pumping gas into your car when a friendly voice emanates from the pump and asks you to pick your favorite dessert from three choices

It may sound like a prank from "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment," but dozens of customers who heard voices at two Orlando, Fla. BP stations were secretly part of a TV campaign that breaks in that market this week.

Called "At the Pump," the domestic branding campaign was created by WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, for BP Connect. The spot uses hidden cameras on unsuspecting patrons to promote specific messages about BP Connect, which offers fuel, convenience stores and Wild Bean Cafes. The first four of seven TV spots in the 2003 pool captures the humorous reactions of real customers to a hidden voice that engages them as they pump gas.

Hidden-camera gimmicks aren't new and are increasingly in vogue for reality TV. But BP thinks the approach is particularly relevant for its brand. "We set out to capture people in the rhythm of their day with people in the busy lives they have," said Alan Cohen, senior partner-group account director at Ogilvy. "We found we had a great opportunity to engage people at that point in an honest and engaging fashion to tell the offerings we had inside."

The estimated $20 million effort marks a more direct attempt to brand the BP concept than its 2002 introductory campaign and will include TV, radio, outdoor, in-store displays, local store marketing and direct marketing. Spots promoting Amoco Ultimate fuel and the overall brand break later this year as the campaign rolls out in additional markets. A secondary effort promoting the chain's environmental efforts also is being finalized.

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