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Some motorists are receiving a free commercial fill-up at the pump.

Gasoline marketers Unocal Corp., Shell Oil Co. and Exxon Corp. are testing pumps with color mini-screens that show commercials as consumers fill their tanks.

First, the 5-inch-wide screen explains payment options, and then displays the station's national ad campaign, promotions and ads for other services. The system will display up to five different spots during a fill-up.

The marketers believe this medium will more effectively communicate how to use the pay-at-the-pump feature than current systems, which use a confusing mix of buttons and signage. The screen pumps will also serve as a marketing vehicle for each station.

"So far, consumer reaction has been very positive," said a spokesman for Unocal, which installed the system May 14 at a Santa Clarita, Calif., station. "Most consumers think it is fun, informative and helps pass the time while pumping gas."

Unocal's test will run until the end of June.

The new medium is also capable of running outside advertisers' commercials and community service announcements, the Unocal spokesman said.

A Houston Shell station was the first to carry the TV pumps last October, and an Exxon station there followed. Officials at Shell and Exxon couldn't be reached for comment.

McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Houston, handles Exxon; Ogilvy & Mather handles Shell. Unocal is handled by Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

Gilbarco, Greensboro, S.C., markets the pumps.

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