Performance Research / Survey Sampling International Study of Gulf Oil Tragedy




New poll suggest Americans hold a dim view of BP and it is getting worse.

In a two country poll conducted June 12th and 13th, 2010, by Performance Research, in conjunction with Survey Sampling International, of over 600 respondents, (half in the US and half in the UK), the overall consensus was that BP’s credibility as a whole, as well as a sponsor of major sports and arts properties, is taking a hit, and getting worse.  Yet there are stark contrasts in views between Americans and the Brits on a variety of topics, especially when it comes to the future of BP’s support of their favorite pastimes.

When asked to identify the single most important issue today, from a list of major world news and events, nearly half of Americans (47%) identified the gulf oil spill as most important, over the global economy failures (28%), health care (10%), or the Afghan war, the Iran or Iraq conflicts, national political shifts, or even the World Cup (each receiving less than 5%).  Compare that to the British, who claim the global economy failures as the number one issue (35%), followed by the war in Afghanistan (18%), then the gulf oil spill (17%), the Iran conflict (9%), the World Cup (7%), Health Care (6%), then political shifts and the Iraq conflict (each 5% or less).

When asked who should be paying for the clean-up, Americans are holding BP nearly fully accountable, with 90% claiming they should pay for all (52%) or most (39%), while only 77% of Brits feel the same.  As for the US Government’s role, only about a quarter of the citizens in both countries (24% US / 28% UK) feel they should be contributing all or most of the payments to help with the cleanup.


It is what’s at stake for both BP and the Obama administration.  Among citizens in both countries, it seems that BP is taking the hardest hit in the US, while the Brits seem to be giving BP a little leeway.  When asked how much they agree with these statements, only 19% of Americans feel “BP has been open and honest about developments with the oil spill,” while double that number in the UK (40%) seem to believe in BP.  Similarly, when asked if they “Trust BP when they say, ‘We will make it right,’” only 20% of Americans seem to buy it, while over a third (34%) of the Brits agree.  Probably most telling is that a majority of American (66%) and Brits (51%) believe that “BP is more worried about saving its profits than the spill’s impact on the environment.”

When asked to rate their overall opinion of BP prior to the oil rig disaster, and today, ratings among Americans dropped from 40% positive opinions to 15% positive, and from 49% positive opinions in the UK to only 29% positive today.  Inversely, negative impressions grew from 13% to 63% in the US, and 10% to 32% in the UK.

For the Obama administration, it isn’t quite as bad, but signs still point to skepticism.  Only 26% in both countries agreed that “The US Government is handling its response to the oil spill appropriately.”

Future of business for BP.

So what happens next?  The oil spill will someday be contained, and hopefully, the clean-up will be old news.  How will their business fair?  In the US, it looks like it might be a long road ahead, with nearly half (47%) of American vehicle owners we spoke with claiming they would be less likely to purchase fuel from the company in the future.  Not so tough were the Brits with only 21% drawing a line in the sand.

Now what about all of the marketing partners across the US and the UK who are affiliated with BP in everything from professional sports to modern art galleries?  Are they being chastised because of the supposed bad deeds of their sponsor?  It appears that consumers do have a heart after all, and most are still appreciative of BP’s involvement.  However, when renewal time comes along, it seems consumers here and abroad think those marketing dollars should be diverted to environmental efforts and causes along the Gulf coast  (56% US / 42% UK) and that money currently spent on sponsorships is taking away funds that could be used to help in the clean up (49% US / 35% UK).  Going forward, many (37% US / 15% UK) feel sports events or leagues should not seek or accept new sponsorship alliances or funds from BP.  Some even went so far as to claim that they would not support any sport or cultural institution that received any funds from BP (22% US / 8% UK).  Fortunately for the properties, this was a minority.

For further updates as they become available, log on to



About Methodology:

Performance Research and Survey Sampling International conducted this study online among a national random sample of American consumers, aged 18-65, June 12-13, 2010.  A total of 600 respondents were included in this study, including 300 in the United States and 300 in the United Kingdom.    The margin of error for this sample is no more than +3%.

PowerPoint charts of complete research results are available by request.

About Performance Research:

Performance Research (Newport, Rhode Island) is the world’s leader in consumer research and evaluation for the sponsorship industry. Founded in 1985, the company has taken the leading role in understanding the marketing impact of sponsorship, as well as the phenomenon of emotional triggers and passion points among sports and arts enthusiasts.

Performance Research’s consulting and evaluation work affects nearly $800 million worth of corporate sponsorship investments each year. Custom studies include on-site event surveys, telephone interviews, online surveys, and in-depth qualitative focus groups that explore the marketing impact of sponsorship / advertising from the consumer perspective.

About Survey Sampling International:

Survey Sampling International is the premier global provider of sampling solutions for survey research. SSI offers access to more than 6 million consumer and business-to-business research respondents in 72 countries via Internet, telephone, and mobile. Additional client services include custom profiling, survey programming and hosting, data processing, sampling consulting, and survey optimization.

SSI serves more than 1,800 clients worldwide, including 48 of the top 50 research organizations. Founded in 1977, SSI has an international staff of 400 people representing 50 countries and 36 languages. The company has 17 offices in 15 countries to locally support your global sampling needs.

For more information:

Contact:  Jed Pearsall

Tel: 401- 848-0111

Fax: 401-848-0110