New Orleans tourism officials have canceled an advertisement that poked fun at the nationality of BP Plc, the company responsible for the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, after receiving complaints it was “anti-British.”
The print ad, a play on the city’s history, was part of an effort to dispel perceptions the spill in the nearby Gulf has closed the “Big Easy” and its famed restaurants and music to tourism.
“This isn’t the first time New Orleans has survived the British,” it read alongside a photo of Jackson Square in the French Quarter.
The square is named for former President Andrew Jackson, who as a general led forces that defeated a British invasion during the War of 1812.
BP, whose well is spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico 61 days since it blew out, used to be called British Petroleum and is based in London.
Last week, Britain’s Guardian newspaper ran a headline calling the campaign anti-British.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau said it did not mean to offend anyone, only highlight the city’s pride in its history and its often irreverent sense of humor. But it scrapped the ad anyway.
“We didn’t set out to offend the people of the U.K. who we know are being impacted financially by the oil spill, and we deeply regret any ill feelings the ad might have caused,” Stephen Perry, the bureau’s chief executive, said in a statement. “In fact, the United Kingdom is one of our most important international markets for visitors.”
New Orleans and its tourism industry had been rebuilding in the five years since Hurricane Katrina flooded much of the city. The oil spill now threatens more economic damage.
Other topical print ads in the campaign will remain. One is a send-up on the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deep water drilling in the Gulf. It reads: “There is no moratorium on shrimp po-boys. Phew!”