INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Amoco’s name, logo to be dropped from BP stations

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.

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

long-term brand-building.’



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

for comment.



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.



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