Visuality as Greenwashing: The Case of BP and Deepwater Horizon
SourceOrganization & Environment
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We use a visual semiotic approach to explore how BP utilized the power of the visual after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Through the careful construction and use of images on its corporate website, BP narrated a visual story that helped the company construct a “logic of representation” when its “logic of practice” became problematic and heavily scrutinized. We argue that the BP case has wider applicability in understanding how companies deploy the visual to create a reality that averts the limelight from risky practices, aid their post-disaster image restoration efforts, or even enhance greenwashing practices when decoupling is exposed. The study adds to a growing literature that raises the importance of visual literacy for both management practitioners and researchers of organizations. It also adds to the literature on greenwashing by showcasing the role of visual imagery in shaping green communication.