In the grand scheme of things, these are minor details and the links are indirect. But managers should remember that the days when consumers were more interested in what companies say -- as opposed to whom they use to say it -- are over. We live in a transparent, connected world, in which anyone can discover that Brunswick is an historic mouthpiece for Big Oil (it represented Shell in 2004 when the company's chairman resigned after allegations that the company had exaggerated its oil and gas reserves).
BP has an impossible problem with its image, as it tries to simultaneously plug the oil spill in the Gulf, apologize for same, and make good the damage it has done. So there was no reason for BP to connect itself to Cheney and Goldman/Wall Street -- villains No.2 and 3 (after BP itself) in the pantheon of post-Bush America -- and yet the company took the opportunity to do it anyway.
What's next, hiring Kim Jong-Il as an international strategy advisor?