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Shira Lazar

Shira Lazar

Posted: October 6, 2010 12:47 PM

British Petroleum protest group @bpglobalpr became an instant Internet sensation when they took on BP this past May during the Gulf oil spill.

The parody account quickly gained over 100,000 followers with its Daily Show-esque tweets both poking fun at and viciously attacking the gas company.

The man behind it all, Josh Simpson, had remained anonymous until recently.

I spoke to the 26-year old comedian who was based in Los Angeles when he decided to launch his faux online persona.

"I started it as a response to BP's efforts to spin what was going on in the gulf," Simpson told me. "From the beginning, they were low-balling the numbers as to how much oil was spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. Then they weren't letting the press onto the beach and then they were making insensitive comments like Tony Hayward was. It just seemed like they were out of touch with reality and they were downplaying it to the American public. So I decided to put a little bit of truth into the equation."

Just like any PR company he strategized his roll-out to the public: "My strategy was to add big Twitter users to see if anyone would pay attention to me and sure enough they mayor of Twitter, Roger Ebert, re-tweeted something that I said and that kind of sent us off to the races. People were debating what is this, is this real... and over one weekend it just blew up."

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Besides tweeting, he also started selling BP cares t-shirts including the slogan, "we're bringing oil to American shores," which he used to raise money for the Gulf Restoration Fund.

His tweets soon turned into a movement, and had everyone wondering about the person behind all of it.

When I first spoke to him, Simpson insisted on remaining anonymous. He refused to show his face or have his real voice broadcast.

"I just wanted to keep the cross hairs on BP," he said. "I felt that if I came out and said, 'Hey! It's me,' it would become more of my thing rather than a thing..."

Was he afraid of getting shut down or taken down by the oil giant?

"I knew there hands were kind of tied. I knew it wouldn't look good if they did shut me down and if they did, it was kind of like great... BP asked Twitter to indicate that the account was a fake, to which I responded 'We're not associated with BP, the company that's been destroying the gulf for: 87 days'."

So how does he hope to use the brand he created to continue to make impact? Using comedy and some online guerrilla action, he says.

"BPGlobalPR won't die. I'm going to keep it alive. I'm going to change it to Big Pollution or Big Polluters GlobalPR. It will still remain BP, so I can address a wide variety of environmental issues. As far as comedy goes, we're starting WorldGlobalPR.com... What the Onion is to news, WorldGlobalPR will be to spin: videos, billboard type ads, articles and press releases."

Originally posted on CBSNews.com

 

Follow Shira Lazar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/shiralazar