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Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for US-based Divergente LLC consulting firm, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.

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Oil Throwback: BP Is Bringing Back The Amoco Brand

BP

It’s back! After almost a decade on the bench, BP is reviving its Amoco brand in response, the company said, to some internal marketing studies that suggest the brand still resonates with some American consumers.

In BP’s words, the Amoco brand will “help resolve local, competitive station conflicts in markets where there may already be one or more BP stations in close proximity.” In non-corporate-speak, that means that BP will put Amoco stations next to BP stations to gain a bigger presence—as opposed to having too many BP stations in one small geographic area. It’s likely about more than that, possibly an essential but cautions rebrand: not shedding the BP name, but testing the waters with a new­—er, make that an old—name and logo.

BP, formerly British Petroleum, merged with Amoco back in the late ‘90s, but for a while kept the red, white, and blue torch-clad brand for its U.S. retail gas stations. Way back in May of 1999, BP had started to make a push for a more environmentally sound image in the UK. About a year later, BP upped the ante and unveiled a prototype for a new line of stations called BP Connect. The stations had solar panels and brand-spanking new colors. It made another attempt at redoing its image, when in 2009, BP finally kicked to the cub the rather patriotic-looking Amoco logo that it had kept in the U.S., along with the Amoco name—introducing its “Invigorate” brand of gasoline to take its place.

In what later became super ironic, BP had intended this Invigorate brand of fuel (in BP-branded stations) to reach a younger crowd, touting its cleaner properties and the fuel’s ability to “eat the dirt in engines” and coming up with a snappy blue logo. “Hundreds of little scrubbing brushes… “ BP claimed on its website.

Unfortunately, not even a year after BP had dispensed with the Amoco brand, the Deepwater Horizon spill erased any headway that BP may have made in reshaping its image. The notion of reintroducing the Amoco brand was proposed by desperate BP retailers shortly after the spill sullied the BP name, but BP at the time said it was not considering the rebrand.

Fast forward seven years, and BP is now ready to bring back the iconic Amoco brand that was first used in 1912.

Others in the oil industry are also working to rebrand, and have been for nearly a decade, each one seemingly intent on distancing themselves from “oil”, a word that was no longer en vogue. The push grew as several environmental disasters soured the public on the fossil fuel. That, combined with the onslaught of the millennial generation, caused many oil companies to focus on rebranding in a way that more closely portrayed them as being environmentally friendly and renewable-driven. But while BP’s rebranding is focused on end users of fuel, others are focused on investors.

Related: New Iran Sanctions Could Send Oil Prices Higher

Suncor published a report, 2010 Report on Sustainability, that was one of the first signs that the industry knew it needed to make a change. Others, like Cenovus Energy, followed suit, but focused on the fact that there were “other” uses for oil—like ultrasounds—in a campaign called “More Than Fuel.”

A more recent rebrander is Dong Energy, which just announced that it was changing its name to Orsted now that it has divested its unpopular upstream oil and gas segment, claiming that it has reduced carbon emissions substantially over the last few years, using phrases like “sustainable way of life” and other nature-inspired words.

Some may find it surprising that BP chose a name and reputation that is inextricably tied to oil—and to the good old red white a blue, which has also fallen out of fashion as of late, if one is to believe the mainstream media. But perhaps the world is ready to once again embrace the red, white, and blue torch that is an iconic symbol for US oil, despite its unfavorable place in the new world order. Or perhaps BP’s market research simply showed that even oil-tethered Amoco has a better reputation than the one BP has unwittingly earned for itself.

Regardless of the reasons behind the Amoco throwback, Madonna, Old Spice, and Pabst Blue Ribbon are proof positive that a rebranding can breathe new life into decaying products, services, and icons, and those who fail to adapt to whatever trend is en vogue today may be left behind—even oil companies.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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