When it comes to naming and shaming, the White House has recently elevated the practice to an art form. Over the weekend, the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. indicated in an interview that President Obama will stop referring to a certain unloved oil company as British Petroleum. His administration has come in for criticism across the pond for playing to nationalist sentiment by pointedly reviving a somewhat parochial name BP stopped using itself 12 years ago, when it bought U.S. oil firm Amoco.
If reverting to the oil major's old name was politically motivated, though, perhaps White House officials missed a trick. Had they delved deeper into BP's history, they would have found that until 1954, the company was known as Anglo-Iranian Oil. In terms of whipping up populist fervor, what could beat a name combining the redcoats with America's Middle Eastern antagonist?