TEXACO GUSHES ABOUT BEING 'ENERGY' GIANT

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There was a time when all the image help Texaco needed was a few wisecracks from Bob "Havoline Supreme" Hope, or maybe just a little close harmony from a uniformed service-bay quartet.

Used to be the Texaco man ran to your car, saluted and opened the hood. But in the last year, with all you read in the paper, you get the idea that the Texaco man is wearing a hood.

You can trust your car/ to the man who wears the star.

Unless he and the boss/ are out burning a cross.

Yes, although the truth of the racial-epithet incident seemed to come right out of David Mamet's "Olea-na"-with an executive's pro-diversity remarks being taken for exactly the opposite-the resultant cover-up and media scandal left an impression of a company operating figuratively, as well as literally, in a fossilized past.

While, of course, raping the environment in the bargain.

So now comes narrator Paul "Just Imagine My Fee" Newman and BBDO Worldwide to the rescue with an image campaign themed "A world of energy."

BBDO, of course, is to corporate image what Leo Burnett is to talking animals, vegetables and minerals. When global industrial giants operate under a cloud of public suspicion, this agency comes up with the silver lining.

For example, while the Berrigans wanted you to hate General Electric for its technology of mass destruction, "We bring good things to life" had the public pretty much focused on frost-free freezers. And while Du Pont Co. was destroying the ozone layer with chlorofluorocarbons, it was successfully deflecting bad feelings with optimistic TV spots about monoclonal antibodies, double-hulled tankers and Teflon-"Better things for better living."

It's worth recalling that Du Pont's previous slogan was "Better living through chemistry." Today, that would like claiming "Better living through incest" for all the good will it would generate. By the same token, not long ago oil companies were boasting about North Sea drilling platforms-precisely the sort of thing they'd now like us to forget about.Hence BBDO's trademark mission: to accentuate the positive.

This campaign is, in effect, Better Living Through Hydrocarbons. Fours spots are SweetCam montages of the fruits of combustible fuels. It's hydrocarbons that give us the Medivac helicopters, hydrocarbons that give us Traverse City school bus service, hydrocarbons that give us Good Humor trucks, even hydrocarbons that fuel the sheep-herding motorbike in the green, green hills of Scotland.

Not that there is any actual reference to hydrocarbons, nor to the gasoline they come from, nor to the petroleum it comes from, nor to the crude oil it comes from, nor to the rigs that fetch it from deep inside Mother Earth. No, in the euphemized world of corporate image, there is only "energy."

"See Texaco run," Newman says, "and develop, invent, visualize, hypothesize, explore, discover and relentlessly search, seek and find the energy the world needs to run. Run, world, run."

And see who is running! And embracing in joyful comradery! A Texaco woman! And a Texaco African-American! And a Texaco Latino! Three kinds of jelly beans, arm in arm! No doubt there would be four, but Rachel Carson was unavailable.

It's not exactly revisionism. It's more like those paper strips around the

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