BP Finally Brings Back Amoco

CHICAGO – Seven years ago, I proposed on Seeking Alpha that BP, formerly British Persia and British Petroleum and now just BP, bring back the Amoco brand as an option for franchisees. This was during the BP oil spill fiasco, which was, at the time, a big mess.

They just did it. Here’s the quote from BP:

“The reintroduction of the historic Amoco brand is an exciting step forward in BP’s U.S. retail growth strategy, and it clearly demonstrates our commitment to helping our branded marketers grow their businesses,” said Rick Altizer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for BP Fuels North America.

BP consumer research found that the Amoco brand still resonates with many American consumers, and that both it and the BP brand appeal to similar audiences. In light of the findings, the two brands will share a similar marketing strategy, leveraging the strengths of BP’s programs and the familiarity of the Amoco brand.

This is a very smart move, and long overdue. It is a good move that they have done it now, rather than as a defensive move because of the public relations issues with the oil spill, which is long since resolved and in some cases, forgotten.

The move will allow dealers to have differently branded stations close to each other and not seem to be repetitive.

As they implement this move, they ought to do a number of things for the BP brand. These might include re-emphasizing the BP brand in certain areas of the country. For instance, Florida is home to literally hundreds of thousands of British from the United Kingdom, Commonwealth countries and former colonies that had a positive view of BP. This would work also in the mid-Atlantic and D.C. area, which is highly international. Across the U.S., there are millions of multicultural Commonwealth citizens from Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada and dozens of other places, and they all know the BP brand. This would help to differentiate BP from Amoco, and create a new market.

To emphasize this change, they could bring back the old BP shield design as a consumer brand, and embrace the idea of British Petroleum rather than being “beyond petroleum” as some marketing defines the company now. BP stations in Florida might actually connect with things British and Commonwealth, including food and beer. Remember. The first international show proposed by Netflix was about Queen Elizabeth, and it was a hit amongst every demographic and age and country. This does not necessarily mean cutesy giveaway wedding plates with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, thought that might be interesting and highly amusing. This would recall the old gas station practice of giving away promotional glasses to kids.

It might instead mean support for Invictus games, giveaways and partnerships with Land Rover, Mini and Jaguar, and beer promotions with Newcastle, Guinness and the like. It also might mean the promotion of products related to Commonwealth British culture, which includes Arab and Indian brands, and U.K. soccer teams.

The company said it will have parallel marketing thrusts for the BP and Amoco brands. That might be a mistake. There is a slightly different feel to the brands. The Amoco brand was more about high octane fuel, and performance. There was a decidedly muscular feel to the brand, which carried a torch. Perhaps instead of marketing each brand as a convenience store, doing what is basically badge engineering, they might re-establish actual service stations with one of the brands like Amoco, so that the actual fixing of cars is associated with the brand.

Part of the issue with convenience stores owned by gas stations is that gas people, while good at getting energy out of the ground, are not good at marketing food. They are awful at it. Thus, companies like 7-Eleven developed in the ’70s and now Wawa has eclipsed them in customer service. The gas is an afterthought, and the gas companies never properly supervise their franchisees. The bathrooms get dirty, the beer signs clutter up the windows, and the counters get filled with display racks of nasty cheap Swisher Sweet cigarillos. As my daughter says, the stations look “sus” as in suspect, and they do not appeal to a female consumer. This is the situation with many BP stations.

One important item. The Amoco brand never actually fully went away. It appeared on on pumps even after Amoco stations were branded BP. They used the Amoco brand as a product brand, thereby keeping the brand alive. Companies that drop iconic brands like Amoco need to institutionalize this practice, so that when times and business styles change, they can adapt.

4 Comments

  1. Amoco means nothing in Ohio, but Sohio does. They are leaving a lot of gasoline sales on the table by not using that brand.

  2. I believe I remember Amoco being in NY. I’m now just outside LA.

    I really just want to say I was laughing so hard at the wedding plates comment that I had to stop reading for a moment.

    I’m a man and currently alone again after a really nasty split that turned violent on her end, actually, and my only living family these days are also horrible, violent people, so I have no-one around me at the moment to ask about women’s appeal to gas stations, but nothing seems off about your analysis.

    I don’t believe Amoco was in the West, but I will say that this is Movieland. While our European immigrants tend to be from Eastern Europe (proximity, port cities. It’s why I only met four other Asians, two other Asian households, in rural Florida) and BP would only mean anything to Aussies and New Zelanders, this is the place where all those action movies are made. (Car chases are actually common in real life here because of the highway-dependent layout, and THAT’S why they’re near-ubiquitous in action movies)

    As a high-performance, young, muscular racing kind of image, Amoco might also do well here, and would be able to offer a facade of alternative from AM/PM.

    This is also a place where half of the population gets new cars every year, but the other half is into classic car restoration *raises hand*, and a brand linked to repair and restoration with consistent, good quality of service would have a decent market in that.

    For the convienience store end of it, as I always say, adapt to your local market. These people wouldn’t know European food if it hit them in the face. I’m Japanese and Italian, and eventually found a home with Latinos on the East Coast as a fellow immigrant, but I did mix some with Italians in NY. I make my own Italian food. Never order Italian food dining out in CA. Domino’s is the best pizza. Seriously.

    That being said, even the image of “Fancy Britain” isn’t gonna sell here. The best thing about AM/PM is their breadth of coffee fixings. (And unlike 7-11’s, their French Vanilla doesn’t taste like what I believe to be imitation vanilla poured in. 7-11 does, though, offer more breadth in ready-made foods, which they do globally and they adapt well to local markets. Here, you see tacos. In Japan, you see curried rice)

    Amoco being the type of brand it is, out here, would do well to offer stuff like Gatorade, Muscle Milk, and both some craft beers for the young set and some Bud for the classic car set. For foods, on-the-go burgers alongside some party foods for the younger men.

    Women enjoy the Long Beach Grand Prix alongside men (a KILLER marketing opportunity), but I don’t know what foods sporty women might like that men don’t and if I pop over to ask my neighbour out of the blue, she’s gonna think I’m weird because we don’t usually do that.

  3. I’m gonna glut up a comment stream of a several months old article even more and say that this brand would probably also do very well in urban centres throughout the South (masculine cultures with cars and not farms) AND in most college towns (young men with parents’ money messing with their cars for fun and wanting to feel cool like an action movie)

  4. Thanks greatly for reading this: my very first E-mail to “Brandland, USA.”💁🏻‍♂️👋🏼 (Hope that this will NOT be my last!). My question is…will BP ever get around to re-introducing the “Torch-&-Oval” down here in (ugh!) Southeastern USA? 🛤

    I collect small, durable, trademark-shaped “petroliana,” paper petroliana…& especially wall-mounted, molded/embossed, “small” signs (such as “pump-island-canopy” signs)…from any & all oil companies.🛡 And yet–THIS collector is partial to most Rockefeller-based companies in general. And to American Oil/Ind. Standard in particular! Will reveal why in a second.

    Have associated Amoco, Ind./Neb. Standard Oil, & their regional affiliates, all with vast Midwest.🛣🏞🏙 (Esp. whenever I get wanderlust to escape rural, N.W. Ala….)🛤 However: Baltimore-based, red/black, “AMOCO” oval dotted both major highways & rural (in some cases before 1946, even dirt) roads, from Delaware southward into Key West, Fla…from 1933-‘34 into 1961. Down here in “central” Southeast: Amoco displayed its red/white/navy Torch-&-Oval from at least 1957 onward—and even since 1929-‘30, if you include ONE affiliate (of Ind./Neb. Standard’s)…for whom even Baltimore’s “old,” East. Seaboard Amoco was mere subsidiary: Pan-American Petroleum Corp.

    In four states by 1934…six states, by 1953 or so…Pan-Am’s red/navy-striped “diners” (often awarded “White Torch” signs for “Clean Rest-Rooms”)…once gave STRONG competition to, say, Cities’ Service (Citgo since 1965, you know), Lion Oil, D-X/Mid-Continent/Diamond (Sunoco since 1980 or so…now entering Ala. for first time!), a once-powerful Pure Oil (now jobbers’/dealers’ cooperative ever since 1993, when Unocal left Southeast), etc., &c. For Ind. Standard (whose Chicago tower was few, scant blocks from Pure Oil Bldg.)…Pan-Am was successful competition against two Rockefeller-based siblings: Esso/N.J./La. Standard/Humble Oil, in half of Pan-Am’s “region”; Ky. Standard Oil, here in other half.🐅⛽️

    Am far, far too young to remember parents “fillin’-up” at those Pan-Am “diners.”👶🏽 When Ind. Standard replaced Pan-Am ovals & pump-decals with “AMOCO” red/white/navy ovals (for Central South, incl. SoCal/Chevron territory of E. Tex.), thus introducing their benzol-based premium to states west of Ga. & Pensacola—by then, my parents were still 10th or 11th Grade teens.🏉🏀🍔🌭🍿🍦 Eleven yrs. later, when I was kindergartener during 1968-‘70…Mattel introduced earliest “Hot Wheels”; AC-tual muscle-cars & “pony-cars” ran into new facts about exhaust-emissions; and “Lead-Free Amoco Super-Premium” & “Super Permalube L.D.O.” both shrewdly capitalized on Americans’ new fears about air pollution. 🚙 (“Someday, all oil companies’ gasolines will be lead-free. But—for now—there is Only One…”…so claimed American Oil’s commercials of 1969-‘71.). 🗺And THIS budding, road-map-collector & gas station “trinkets”-collector did find occasional, Pan-Am grease-pails & pour-spout pails, rusting-out in barns & forests.🛢 During those years when single “gals” longed to become mini-skirted, flight-stewardesses (yes, including my toddler-age sisters’ Barbies)…I wondered WHY American Oil also owned “World’s Most Experienced Airline!” 🤔👩🏿‍✈️🛫

    Was com-PLETE-ly unaware that Pan-Am Petroleum’s pre-1958 brand…hinted at what that once-massive crude-producer had once been, from 1916 until 1932-‘33. Neither had I known (until “Antiques’ Price-Guides” were finally published for us automobilia- & “petroliana”-collectors, by late-1980s)…that Pan-Am Petroleum had been Los Angeles-founded & -based…never Chicago-based. 🍀Hey!—“Chair-Desk-Lamp,” you’ll want to read this: Turns out that Pan-Am’s “PAN-GAS” (on four-leaf-clover symbol) once heralded many green/orange, “fillin’ stations” in/of 1920s’ California!🏝🏔🌁 Your guess IS partially-correct: Ind. Standard had VERY little to do with Pan-Gas marketing (if anything!)…and had no refining/mktg. division ANY-where in Desert S.W.🌄 “Stan-Ol-Ind” rapidly closed or sold-off Pan-Gas’ Los Angeles refinery & mktg. “properties” by 1932, or perhaps earlier. (Not until after 1961 would their American Oil ovals arrive into Southwest, to challenge SoCal’s Chevron Islands.) 🔰 Even so, Ind. Standard DID purchase large percentage of Pan-Am stock by 1925-‘26…mainly for Pan-Am’s Venezuelan & Mexican operations.🇧🇴 🇲🇽🌎

    And from 1928 into ‘61, Ind. Standard DID challenge SoCal’s pre-W.W. II “Red Crown Gasoline & Zerolene Motor Oils”…in Utah & Idaho, anyway…with “VICO Motor Oils & PEP 88 Gasoline,” via Utah Oil Refining Co. (Replaced both trademarks with “UTOCO” by 1946–again, within Torch-&-Oval. Utoco expanded into Vegas, Portland, & Seattle by 1955.). Curiously, Utah Oil’s 1930s’ & wartime advertising often “bracketed” their “Vico/Pep 88” disc with “Stanolind Products.” Amazes me that SoCal/Chevron seemed never to object!…

    Please…PLEASE forgive me!…for becoming carried-away with Ind. Standard/Amoco history. And with some of my own, early-childhood memories. AND with a few sentences about historical contexts of our own, early childhoods between 1961 (for older brother) & 1977 (for youngest stepsister).👭👭👬

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