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Industry experts say a BP boycott has little effect

Posted June 17, 2010

— Is a boycott of BP the most effective way for consumers to show their frustration about the eight-week oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that's considered to be among the largest in the world?

More than 640,000 people on Facebook think so, but experts in the petroleum industry said Thursday that doing so might be misguided, as it will likely only hurt local franchise owners who sell the British energy company's products.

"To hurt a local service station dealer, simply because his sign says BP, that's not actually getting at London and getting at BP," said Bill Weatherspoon, executive director of the North Carolina Petroleum Council, a trade association that represents petroleum retailers.

Gavan J. Fitzsimons, a professor of marketing and psychology at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, said that in reality, there is little any one person can do about the oil spill.

"If you skip a BP Station, it's an illusion of control," he said. "It will make us feel better in the short-term."

"Potentially long-term, if you can get enough people boycotting, the negative media attention could affect share prices. That hurts them," he added.

April Kappler, of Raleigh, said she has taken a different approach to protesting the petroleum company.

Experts say BP boycott won't help Experts say BP boycott won't help

"I can't stop using BP. It's not the owners of the BP stores fault," Kappler said. "So, chopping up my BP credit card was my way of saying, 'I don't agree with what's happened.'"

Meanwhile, public outrage over the oil spill continued Thursday as BP's chief executive officer told a U.S. House subcommittee that he was "deeply sorry" for the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the spill and killed 11 workers and injured 17 others.

"I understand the seriousness of the situation, the frustrations and fears that continued to be voiced," Tony Hayward said.

One protester disrupted the hearing when she confronted Hayward and had to be forcibly removed from the room by Capitol police.

The woman, identified as Diane Wilson, shouted to Hayward from the back of the room: "You need to be charged with a crime."


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  • notevil Jun 21, 2010

    We've always been told to vote with our dollars and that's what I'm doing. I don't accept that only choice is to do nothing because doing something will hurt local businesses. If local BP sellers are hurt by a boycott, they should seek compensation from BP.

  • dogluvr26 Jun 18, 2010

    Koolbike, let's break apart what you're saying & throw in some logic for kicks & giggles:

    "Who cares if a few private local owners lose some business or all of it." I do. And so should any responsible citizen concerned about the local economy. Just because it's a mess at the Gulf doesn't mean we have to make the financial repurcussions larger & bring job and financial loss here. I don't want to see any innocent party lose a job.

    "Then tell me that BP is not at fault for this mess..." Who said it wasn't their fault? Choosing not to mindlessly boycott doesn't change the guilty party's actions.

    "I would be embarrassed to show my face at a BP station right now, as all of you should be too." You don't seem to realize they aren't BP-owned stations. Boycotting BP branded stations isn't going to solve the problem.

    "Doing nothing means you don't care." So...driving a local business into the ground means you do care?

    Think first. Then type.

  • glo Jun 18, 2010

    Sounds to me like the "Industry Experts" are trying to discourage people into giving up the boycott. Keep the faith. their stock is falling like rain, and sooner or later, the boycott will take that arrogant company down.

  • jas1022 Jun 18, 2010

    ...and oil companies wouldn't lie either!!!

  • bikely Jun 18, 2010

    This time it was BP, last time it was Exxon, next time it will be somebody else- they are all the same and exist and behave the way they do because we demand our cheap oil/gas here in the USA. Want to do something that matters? Get rid of your gas guzzler, demand 50+ mpg from your vehicles (technology has existed for years) or, heaven forbid, walk or bike more. That will also help with the obesity problem as a bonus! It's all a bunch of hot air if you're still drive, drive, driving, one person in a car, at 16 mpg!

  • loulou Jun 18, 2010

    You can boycott BP gas and still shop at the store. That is what I am doing. I will NOT buy BP gas.

  • we_all_have_it_coming Jun 18, 2010

    Lemurs and cowards.

    " I will continue to buy from BP because - because - because.... "

    Go down to the gulf coast and say that carp to the residents.

    What a bunch of wimps. you stand for nothing.... and they know it. That's why Americans have no power and no voice anymore. You got no gahoonaz.

    Big business has bought and sold your rear-ends.... and your votes. You deserve what you have coming.

    I bet if the beaches in NC/SC were slopping in oil your lips would be moving in a different direction.

  • koolbike1 Jun 18, 2010

    Who cares if a few private local owners lose some business or all of it. Take a ride down to the Gulf and look at the mess and all the people and businesses that are out of work there. Then tell me that BP is not at fault for this mess, their lack of safety and back up controls to prevent this mess, and their slow efforts to get things cleaned up. I would be embarrassed to show my face at a BP station right now, as all of you should be too. America needs to stand together on this, whether it makes a little difference or not. The MESSAGE is getting out there, and that is what is going to help speed things up and get the mess gone. Doing nothing means you don't care. Would you not vote just because you thought your vote didn't really matter in the big picture - so why would anyone in their right mind continue to buy fuel from the company that has caused the worst man made disaster in our country's history?

  • lauramichelle79 Jun 18, 2010

    Having worked for a gas station when I was in college, I can agree 100% that gas is not where the owners make their profit it is in the convenience items sold inside. I try to purchase items inside the stores whenever possible. if you don't want to buy the BP branded gasoline fine, but as said earlier, you should still support your local gas conveniece store.

  • redapace Jun 18, 2010

    "If BP gas is the cheapest I'll continue to buy it. Plain and simple."

    But BP gas has always been 10 cents a gallon more than the gas at stations right beside them. Maybe they have tightened up in the recent weeks due to all of the attention/boycotting/etc. Once the media is gone they'll be right back to business as usual.