BP Products North America Inc. recently reaffirmed its commitment to the BP retail brand in Gaylord, Md., at the 2010 BP Amoco Marketers Association (BPAMA) Convention and Business Expo, an annual gathering of BP marketers.
A record number of marketers attended this year’s event to hear from several top BP executives how the company plans to move the brand forward following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The three-day conference addressed plans to build a stronger foundation by investing in its marketers on a local level and paving the way for a winning future.
As fuel volumes and consumer sentiment continue to return, BP is focusing on regaining trust, working with marketers to grow the business together and striving to return BP to the brand of choice for consumers. Notably, a couple of the keynote speakers received standing ovations from the crowd during the convention and were encouraged by the positive response from attendees.
BP’s commitment to progress and improvement resonated well with marketers and brought the two sides closer together during the convention, noted Don Good, BP marketer and owner of Good Oil based out of Winamac, Ind. “At BPAMA, BP was not only focused on making it right in the public’s eyes, but making it right for the jobbers, especially when it came to getting the brand back to where we were before the Gulf incident. The jobbers and BP went through a crisis together, and it was a joint effort between us to weather the storm together.”
“We have had a very challenging six months,” said Kevin Phelan, BP senior vice president for marketing and sales. “While there is no silver bullet, our brand continues to show strength, and we are focused on moving the BP brand forward by providing the level of commitment and support that our marketers expect.”
According to Phelan, BP-branded sales were down between 7-10% during the oil spill. Sales began recovering after the capping of the Mancodo well in mid-July and are currently tracking 3-5% below last year’s levels.
Phelan and BP Director of Brand and Marketing Communications Linda Bartman outlined BP’s plan, which focuses on its quality gasoline product, an improved retail site experience and a focus on the local communities in which BP’s branded marketers operate.
“The foundation for our plans was based on branded marketer input and consumer insights,” said Bartman. “As we move the brand forward, we’re focused on building consumer loyalty and regaining branded marketer trust by improving the site experience and strengthening the BP brand in each marketer’s local community, which is a good first step.”
In addition to the local marketing programs, BP is uniting its marketers through an Olympic-themed customer contest called the ‘Jobber Excellence Program.’ The program is a competition that recognizes excellence in volume growth, network management and site execution, and then rewards marketers with trips to the London Olympics in 2012 and up to $100,000 in funding for site makeovers.
The programs presented during the convention yielded an optimistic response from some marketers in attendance.
“Coming into this conference, I think the majority of us had an open mind. And leaving, I can honestly say that our spirits were higher than we could ever have expected and have a very positive feeling about the future,” said Maximo Alvarez, whose Sunshine Gasoline Distributors is one of the largest suppliers of BP-branded gasoline in Florida.
BP is also investing in its marketers by establishing two executive education programs that build capabilities across the marketer’s broader organization and help strengthen the marketer’s brand. The first is a partnership with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the second is called the ‘Marketer Institute of Excellence’ – an internal BP extension of the Kellogg program.
“BP’s most valuable assets are its marketers,” Bartman said. “As we move the BP brand forward, we’re investing in our marketers because we want to show our commitment to them, their businesses, and the BP retail brand.”