A new television ad from oil giant BP is getting some extra attention this week after viewers noticed an unexpected cameo.
As part of a campaign to promote the company’s work to clean up areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, which released nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf, the company released a new ad Monday. It’s the first time BP has run an ad nationally since late last year. The company says it released the ad this week, because “the cleanup phase of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill response is nearing completion and the first set of early restoration projects is preparing to move forward.”
But some unexpected guests are diverting attention away from the ad’s message and onto a group of protesters.
At the 47-second mark in the video above, just as BP external affairs manager Iris Cross is talking about how all the beaches are open and the area is seeing its best tourism in years, you can see a shot of the 40th annual National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama, held every October. On the beach just outside the festival a blue tarp and group of people are visible. That would be the Alabama Oil Spill Aftermath Coalition.
The group’s organizer told the Houston Chronicle they were there to “raise concerns about seafood safety.” Michele Harmon told the paper that while protesting she saw cameras shooting from the roof of a restaurant above the festival. “I, like the rest of the protesters, assumed they were media filming the crowds at the festival,” Harmon told the Chronicle. “When they panned the cameras our way, we made sure they knew we were there, in hopes of getting media coverage.”
It’s nearly impossible to tell from the BP ad that the group in the background are oil spill protesters, but the group posted on a website additional photos from that day that show the group amassed on the shore, holding signs protesting the spill.