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Spoofing BP (Putting Best Face on a Bad Situation)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010 | 1:37 PM ET

I've been following theBP oil spill story, getting updates online from CNBC.com, as well as BP's own outreach on Twitter.

Crisis in the Gulf
Getty Images
Crisis in the Gulf

Then I stumbled across a Twitter account for BP Global PR. Except it's not really BP Global PR. It's a hilarious send-up of spin.

"We regretfully admit that something has happened off of the Gulf Coast. More to come," reads the first, seemingly legitimate tweet posted last week. Eleven minutes later came a second tweet, which should have raised a red flag that something was amiss. "Adorable! Naughty Kitty Makes a Mess" BP Global PR crowed, providing a link to one of those silly pet videos on YouTube.

What has followed over the last few days is a series of tweets which attempt to put the best face on a very bad natural disaster:

"Think about it this way, the ocean is like root beer and oil is like ice cream. We just made America a giant root beer float!"

"Not only are we dropping a top hat on the oil spill, we're going to throw in a cane and monocle as well. Keeping it classy."

"The good news: Mermaids are real. The bad news: They are now extinct."

"The ocean looks just a bit slimmer today. Dressing it in black really did the trick!"

"Please do NOT take or clean any oil you find on the beach. That is the property of British Petroleum and we WILL sue you."

Some people apparently find the humor here a bit too subtle. They think this is really coming from BP. A Tweeter called @runsinthewind wrote, "@BPGlobalPR u r full of fff sh*t #BP doesn' t give a flying ffff how in the hell can u try to support them wtf".

Whoever is behind it, BP Global PR now has more than 23,000 followers (and counting), far more than the 4,800 following the real BP America Twitter account. Ad Age reports that the real BP hasn't asked Twitter to take down the fake account, and, in fact, may not ever do so.

"People are entitled to their views on what we're doing and we have to live with those," BP spokesman Toby Odone told Ad Age. "We are doing the best we can to deal with the current situation and to try to stop the oil from flowing and to then clean it up."

Ad Age says the spoof's first follower was Josh Simpson, who works at FunnyorDie.com, but the site says it's not behind the prank. The real person has yet to reveal his or her identity, but that person has started selling "BP Cares" T-shirts, with an oil-smudged black and white logo. Proceeds will allegedly go to Healthy Gulf.

Perhaps the spoof, like the oil spill, won't end soon—"Funny, no one has thanked us for seasons 3-15 of Treme yet."

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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