Saturday, June 14, 2008

Exxon's Got To Be Kidding!!

I just finished watching a TV commercial with Exxon touting its environmental and "green" concerns. Are they kidding!!! Here is a company that not only caused and never really came to grips with the greatest environmental incident in US history--the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska--but also is facing a proxy fight by Rockefeller family members over the company's lack of progress on moving beyond petrocarbons.

Facing an increasingly hostile public concerning gas prices and the Rockefeller family fight with the board, what does the company do? It tries to spin its way out of the issues and into the public's good graces. This is not only disengenuous, but it also is a disgrace to all companies that really try to change and cannot do it effectively or quickly enough.

Exxon has not changed and has no intention of changing. It is one of the only oil companies that has admittedly focused almost its entire strategy on oil. It has not significantly invested in new technologies, especially when compared to competitors like BP, Shell, and others. Exxon is making huge profits from the current oil crisis and has not invested in change.

If one were to listen to the Exxon commercials, one would believe that the company is focusing on new technologies like "hydrogen cars" and "freeing us from dependence on oil". All of these efforts are very long term. Nothing Exxon talks about addresses changing the whole nature of what constitutes an oil company to fit the needs of today's market. BP is adapting itself; so its Royal Dutch Shell. Exxon remains an "oil company". As the British would say, "full stop".

I am embarrassed when I watch these ads. I am not embarrassed for Exxon. They have proven that they are beyond being able to be embarrassed. They may actually believe their own lies. I am more embarrassed for other oil companies that are trying to be different. The tainted "paintbrush" of Exxon is a wide "brushstroke". Everyone is tainted. No one will be believed because Exxon has decided that the best way to address the myriad of problems it faces is to try to spin itself into a better reputation. This will prove unsuccessful and will hurt all others in the industry.