Redemption doesn't come easy or cheap. BP appears to be trying to buy back the goodwill of America by heavily sponsoring our Olympic athletes. They can give it their best shot, but I don't think they'll be getting any medals out of this effort.
After causing the worst oil-related disaster since the Exxon Valdez, BP's public opinion in the U.S. has been in the gutter. It's not a situation that any brand can really ignore, but there are a myriad of ways to try to rebuild trust and goodwill. In BP's case, they apparently decided to pursue a high-profile sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Team, and highlight it via a major ad campaign, including videos like this one:
No matter how much money they pour into the sponsorship, and how slick and well-produced the videos and ads are, it still rings hollow to me. The problem is that it is completely off-topic. BP screwed up and hurt us environmentally and economically. Supporting our sports pursuits doesn't do anything to address those past injuries. In a way, it trivializes them.
I'm sure this idea was accompanied by an inspirational presentation, and that it looked great on paper, but the fact of the matter is that nobody can see or discuss this campaign without being reminded of the oil spill. You just can't move past something like that by pretending it didn't happen. If BP really wanted a win, they would have put all the energy, dollars and media budget behind activities that help make our environment better.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Vandals recently defaced a major BP Olympics billboard in London with black oil paint in protest of this "goldwashing" effort. I expect more protests and controversy as the games get underway. Ultimately, there's a chance that BP's overall image could improve after the games, but I wouldn't put money on it.