The anonymous man behind the infamous @BPGlobalPR has been revealed to be Josh Simpson, a 26-year-old LA-based comedian. @BPGlobalPR took the twitterverse by storm this spring during the depths of the Gulf oil spill crisis.
As frustration continued to mount over the endless spill and the public's perception that BP was both inept and callous, Simpson decided to start a parody public relations feed that walked the balance between being laugh-out-loud funny and viciously skewering. The account currently has over 190,000 followers, greatly surpassing BP's real account, which has 18,000 followers.
The Awl got the first on-the-record interview with Simpson after writer Mat Honan discovered his identity over the summer.
Honan asked Simpson what inspired the account, and he cited a CBS video he saw on HuffPost Green as integral to the process. (We're flattered.)
My initial motive was just to mock them. It wasn't something I'd been planning. I was home sick from work, perusing the news, and I honestly started it on a whim. One morning, on May 19, I saw a video on Huffington Post where a CBS reporter was told by the U.S. Coast Guard that if they didn't get off the beach they'd be arrested. When the reporter asked how the Coast Guard could do that on a public beach, they responded, "it's BP's rules."
It was very obvious to me BP was more worried about its image than about actually letting people see and understand what was happening on the Gulf. I was literally taking a whiz when I had this idea: How could I be BP's public relations team on Twitter?
You can watch the video that inspired him here.
Another interesting tidbit about the process that Simpson reveals in The Awl piece is that up to 15 people helped write the tweets, although he wrote all of his public persona's speeches and longer writings. You can read the blog posts Simpson did anonymously for HuffPost under the name Leroy Stick here.
Simpson is also starting a site, World Global PR, as a hub of PR parody and truth telling. He describes the site as:
The basic idea is that I want to be a hub for fake PR that encourages corporate responsibility. I'm building a website that I want to be a reaction to spin. To be an antidote for spin. A site where, when people want to respond to spin, can do whatever they want on there. They can publish a satirical, Onion-style article about a brand. They can create satirical graphics or logos. They can do all these things to respond to spin. It's all going to be filtered through me, you won't be able to just put something up on the site, but I want it to be a hub for that, and to create a network that will allow us to hopefully pull off some of these publicity stunts in real life.
We look forward to much more from Simpson!