Kneeling in prayer for a sin he doesn’t regret, Shakespeare’s Claudius, Hamlet’s fratricidal uncle, ruefully admits: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below, / Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” Claudius knew that empty rhetoric is entirely unpersuasive — a lesson many corporate executives have since learned. In 2000, BP hired the advertisers Ogilvy & Mather to help the company construct an empty prayer. A colorful new logo was created and, with its bank balance no doubt many millions lighter, BP declared it was moving “Beyond Petroleum”. If you want to discover what a business really thinks, you are better off looking at its actions. Shortly before “Beyond Petroleum” was launched, BP made some instructive acquisitions. For $26.5bn, it acquired the oil-drillers ARCO. This was set against a piddling $45m investment in 50 percent of Solarex, a solar company it already part-owned. Weigh the two and you […]

Posted in: BP