Since the BP oil spill began on April 20, an estimated 840,000 to 1.68 million gallons of crude a day have been leaking from the Deepwater Horizon drill site. The resulting plumes of oil measure tens of miles long and tens of millions of gallons of oil in volume, and will cost BP billions in civil fines.

Needless to say, BP is in the middle of a global and PR disaster. Considering the company is to blame for the largest offshore oil spill in US history, which will take years to cleanup in a best case scenario, its handling the situation rather poorly.

So, what do you do when the government distributes a live, 24/7 video of your SNAFU, the most popular Twitter account with your company’s name satirizes your every misstep, and your message is getting out of control? Apparently, you ask people to be your friend on YouTube.

Beginning late last week, a number of lower-third advertisements on YouTube videos popped up with “Friend BP on YouTube” displayed. Clicking on the ad takes you to BP’s official YouTube page, where you can watch well-produced videos featuring BP CEO, Tony Hayward discuss the companies cleanup efforts. There’s also a handfull of interviews with local officials and workers helping with the disaster.

While this message from Hayward has over 300,000 views, the “Friend BP” campaign seems to be having marginal effects.

BP’s YouTube page currently has over 2,700 subscribers, is the 39 most subscribed to channel this month, the top most subscribed to Sponsor channel this month, and the fourth most subscribed to Reporter channel this month. Decent numbers, but nothing fantastic. It’s also interesting to note that BP created its YouTube page on May 18, 2010, almost a full month after the spill began.

I know Friendster, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media communities have completely changed the meaning of friend, but it’s still probably not the smartest term to invoke when you’re a global energy company making billions in profit from natural resources and responsible for one of the greatest environmental disasters of this generation. Next time you want people to check out your message, BP, just use the term subscribe.

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