Right now, there isn’t another company with a worse public-relations profile than British Petroleum. After the blowout of their Deepwater Horizon rig, BP has attempted a series of increasingly desperate ad hoc solutions, none of which have yet to slow the flow of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Seven weeks after the disaster began, BP has only just started making headway on potential solutions. Meanwhile, no one is doing much about getting rid of the existing spill other than attempting to contain it. At the same time, a series of investigative reports showed that BP and regulators from the federal government played footsie to keep the oil company from properly planning for just this eventuality.

BP has now started its efforts to make a fresh start with the American consumer by spending $50 million on an ad campaign that features BP CEO Tony Hayward offering his apologies in this 60-second spot:

Jake Tapper reports:

By now you’ve likely seen or heard BP’s new ad campaign — in newspapers, on radio, TV, and the internet — aimed at conveying to you that the company gets it. Independent analysts estimate the cost of the public relations and ad campaign as at least $50 million.

“The Gulf is home for thousands of BP employees and we all feel the impact,” BP CEO Tony Hayward says to the camera in the TV ad that launched Thursday. “To all the volunteers and for the strong support of the government, thank you. We know it is our responsibility to keep you informed and do everything we can so this never happens again. We will get this done. We will make this right.”

In the ad Hayward calls the oil spill “a tragedy that never should have happened.” He says the company “has taken full responsibility for cleaning up the spill in the Gulf,” says the company “will honor all legitimate claims, and our clean-up efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers. To those affected and your families, I’m deeply sorry.”

I’m a bit conflicted on this ad. The $50 million might be better spent at this point on actual solutions rather than a public-relations rescue. It’s nice to see BP accepting responsibility and apologizing, but that and a buck will get you a fine cup of coffee that looks remarkably similar to the Gulf of Mexico at the moment. However, BP can certainly multitask, and the $50 million is a drop in the bucket to how much it will cost them to clean up their mess, and it should be noted that they need consumers to continue buying BP at the gas pump in order to have the cash to do all of that.

I know I already have a poll in an earlier thread, but this one’s worth surveying as well. Is the new ad campaign a good idea?