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.