BP denied Gov. Charlie Crist’s June 30 request for an additional $50 million for tourism-related advertising on Monday, in a letter drafted by Chief Operating Officer Douglas J. Suttles. Crist had asked for the additional funding to help combat the rapidly deteriorating appeal of the Sunshine State to tourists and help revitalize the $65 million per year industry, yet BP cited the very fact that 90 percent of Florida’s coast has not yet been directly impacted by the spill as part of their decision to “explore other options.”
The majority of the Florida coast remains clean and open for business. As such, we believe that directing money to general grants targeting the entire state is not the most effective mechanism to help those communities that may have seen their business impacted. We are exploring other options on how to promote tourism on a more local level to benefits those most directly impacted.
Our plan going forward is to work with toursim consultants to identify specific locations where tourism is being impacted by the MC 252 incident, and to provide tailored grants for targeted tourism campaigns and interventions that have a more immediate impact on attracting visitors.
The current ad campaign, with an estimated $10 million per week price tag, will end Sunday as funds dry up. Stopping short of threatening to file a lawsuit, Crist made it clear he will fight the decision.
“We are responding to their letter, trying to force them to do the right thing. Like they say in their commercials, ‘do the right thing.’ Well the right thing would be to give us the opportunity to market our state.”
Crist echoed President Obama’s criticism of the oil giant’s own self-image campaign, which has cost more than $50 million to date and includes daily full-page ads in major newspapers throughout the state and country, as well as television commercials on a number of national channels.
Instead of approving more money for Florida to run ads about its beaches, Crist said, the company is running ads touting its own cleanup and claims efforts.
“It’s abundantly clear to me that we need that money to share the story about what’s going on on Florida’s beaches, and what needs to be shared is that most of our beaches are beautiful.”
“The notion that they’re spending who knows how much money to put a good face on BP — how does that help us here?”