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BP's Oil Strike Board Game: Marketing No Kid Would Ever Buy Into

Once again, and without even trying, BP has provided us with another valuable lesson in business: The products you create today just might come back and bite you in the ass tomorrow. Or put another way: If you create a board game that promotes the thrills and rewards of offshore oil exploration, expect someone to dig it out of the archives if your company ends up being responsible for a massive oil spill in the Gulf.

Back in the days of UNO and the Rubik Cube -- and decades before the Gulf oil spill would force us to learn terms like top kill, junk shot and dead zone -- someone within the confines of company must have thought to themselves 'the kiddos could sure use an exciting game that will teach them of the thrills, the money, oh yeah, and the risks of offshore oil exploration.' And poof! The BP Offshore Oil Strike board game was born.

This certainly isn't the first time a major company or industry group has targeted kids to promote its product. (Who can forget the Friends of Coal and its Let's Learn About Coal coloring book?) Nor is it a surprise that the game wasn't a hit. Kids, back then and today, aren't typically "thrilled" by oil drilling. But none of this does little to lessen the creepy irony and cringe effect of rediscovering BP's Offshore Oil Strike board game.

Hat tip to Metro UK, which dug up the classic BP oil strike board game, described here:

Up to four would-be tycoons can compete at exploring for oil, building platforms and laying pipeline to their home countries.

But BP Offshore Oil Strike players must also avoid the dreaded 'hazard cards,' which state: 'Blow-out! Rig damaged. Oil slick clean-up costs. Pay $1 million.

"Ah, if only that were the case," BP CEO Tony Hayward must be muttering to himself. BP has spent $3.12 billion on oil spill clean up and containment efforts since April 20 when Transocean's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and damaged the Macondo well, which continues to spew as much as 60,000 barrels of crude into the Gulf every day. And unlike its promise of 'an exciting board game for all the family,' this disaster has real consequences including the death of 11 workers and widespread environmental damage.

BP wasn't the only company to try and cash in on the thrills of oil exploration either. Milton Bradley introduced in 1974 a Texas oil field-inspired board game called King Oil. The point was to combine 'luck and strategy to control the oil fields.' Others, including the 1940s Carrom's GUSHER preceded these. But BP's oil strike game appears to be the only one created by an actual oil company. Kudos BP for the foresight.

Photo from Flickr user Nicholas Watts, CC 2.0
For complete coverage, see: All Things BNET on BP's Gulf of Mexico Spill

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