CHICAGO: With its recent decision to drop the Amoco name and logo from its US gas stations, BP Amoco may be walking into a branding minefield, several Midwest PR pros said last week.
CHICAGO: With its recent decision to drop the Amoco name and logo
from its US gas stations, BP Amoco may be walking into a branding
minefield, several Midwest PR pros said last week.
Dropping the Amoco name and its 74-year-old logo risks alienating
consumers and throwing away the brand equity the company has built,
sources cautioned after the March 16 announcement by CEO John Browne.
The Amoco name and logo will be replaced by a new image that, according
to Browne, ’reflects the changing nature of our business and the fact
that we are a new company.’
Tom Harris, long a major figure on the Chicago PR scene, said the
decision demonstrates a ’lack of sensitivity to the consumer. If not
done properly, the name change could signify a total ignorance of
Others agreed. ’I really think they’re taking a terrible risk,’ said
Chuck Werle, a senior adviser with Cushman/Amberg Communications who
once handled PR for Leo Burnett - which itself recently changed its
name. ’The name Amoco meant something for so many years. To just drop it
arbitrarily and abruptly, that’s really risky business.’
Jim Fair, director of US media and communications for BP Amoco, was
unavailable for comment on the move. Calls to him in Chicago were
referred to BP’s New York outpost, which did not respond to a request
Ron Culp - who, as VP of PR and government affairs at Sears, has been
dealing with brand-building issues of his own (see story, p7) - thinks
that the name change and logo switch will not work unless it is ’a very
bold and strong statement.’
Culp suggested BP follow the plan used by Bank One when it did away with
the First Chicago Bank brand last year. The bank kept new signage
covered until it could replace logos at all its facilities, and then
held an unveiling day. That sort of event, Culp believes, can create
widespread media coverage and allows a company to have some measure of
control over the way the new moniker is received. ’People do like things
that are new,’ Culp quipped.
Another likely problem is maintaining Amoco’s relatively upscale image
among gas retailers. While Amoco stations routinely charge more than
smaller-name competitors, BP (which already has BP-branded stations in
some parts of the US) does not have a strong image and may not be able
to charge the same prices without losing customers.