Fleishman gets in on oil rebranding

HOUSTON: Fleishman-Hillard has won a prize contract to help phase

out Texaco's brand from service stations nationwide.

The client is Equiva Services, a Houston company that provides

communications and other support for two joint ventures formed in 1998

that combined the "downstream" functions of Shell Oil, Texaco, and Saudi

Refining Inc. (SRI). Equilon operates gas stations and refineries in the

West and Midwestern US, while Motiva dominates the Eastern and Gulf

Coast states. Together, the companies operate or franchise some 13,000

Texaco and 9,000 Shell stations.

To gain regulatory approval for its October merger with Chevron, Texaco

had to sell its interests in Equilon and Motiva. Pending a final

government nod, Shell will own all of Equilon and half of Motiva, with

SRI owning the other half.

Equilon and Motiva hold exclusive rights to Texaco's retail gasoline

brand through June 2004, and may retain nonexclusive rights for two

additional years, explained Rick Wirth, Equiva's marketing

communications and external affairs manager. As a result, most if not

all Texaco stations will become Shells, and they'll get a facelift.

Wirth estimated that the re-branding will cost $500 million, but

declined to say how much of that would go to Fleishman beyond

acknowledging the PR contract to be worth six figures annually.

Fleishman will initially focus on strategic planning and market

research. Offices in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and New York will work on

the account, said Fleishman's Texas president Janise Murphy.

Equiva solicited information from eight undisclosed agencies and heard

proposals from four, Wirth said. Weber Shandwick Worldwide is believed

to have been among the contenders.

The company worked with Dan Klores Communications in New York until

Equiva's business "went in a new direction," Wirth noted.

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