Chevron: We're Not Big Bad Oil

Marketer Aims to Boost Image in $15 Million Push

By Published on .

DETROIT ( -- Roughly 10% of Americans "hate us and our industry and there's nothing we can do to change their minds," said Helen Clark, Chevron Corp.'s manager of corporate brand and reputation. Another 10% are on Chevron's side, while the remaining 80% "are open to learn more even if they don't love us."

So Chevron is joining the ranks of petroleum companies hoping an ad campaign will give that 80% the warm fuzzies. The company on Sunday is launching a global corporate blitz, themed "The Power of Human Energy," that aims to humanize the oil giant and its employees.

'Change their views'
"We want people to see us as part of the solution," said Ms. Clark, who is based at the company's world headquarters in San Ramon, Calif. She said when people learn more about Chevron, it helps change their opinions for the better.

She said "when people get the chance to learn about is, it helps to change their views."

Independent McGarryBowen, New York, developed the series of TV commercials that break nationally on CBS this Sunday on "60 Minutes" with a 2:30 spot dubbed "Untapped Energy" that sets the tone and is part of an estimated $15 million integrated U.S. campaign. Chevron spent $12 million in U.S. measured media for its corporate advertising in the first half of 2007 vs. $14 million in the same period a year ago and $31 million for all of calendar 2006, according TNS Media Intelligence.

The commercial shows a montage filmed in 13 countries, as a voiceover from Campbell Scott (son of actor George C. Scott) tells the audience about the debate over oil, energy and the environment. "It is the story of our time and it is definitive and it's all encompassing. . . . Make no mistake. It isn't just about oil companies. This is about you and me and the undeniable truth that at this moment there are 6.5 billion people on this planet, and by year's end, there will be another 3 million more and every one of us will need energy to live. Where will it come from?"

'Citizens of the world'
The commercial continues, showing snippets of Chevron's 58,000 "citizens of the world," whom Mr. Scott explains are "husbands and wives and part-time poets" and ultimately "the greatest source of energy in the world."

The TV spots, shot and directed by Lance Accord (cinematographer for "Maria Antoinette," "Lost in Translation" and "Being John Malkovich"), may well remind viewers of Dow Chemical's year-old corporate "Human Element'' push from DraftFCB's John Claxton. That effort has boosted Dow's brand-equity rating 25%, according to Core Brand.

Peter Beutel, president of oil commodities consultant Cameron Hanover, said the tone in all ads from oil companies tends to be apologetic. "It's very difficult for consumers to get past that." Further, he said, most consumers don't understand the industry because they only know about volatile gasoline prices and news reports about big oil's record profits.

International effort
Chevron's campaign will also run in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, said Ms. Clark. Outside the U.S, local offices of WPP Group's Y&R will adapt U.S. print work from its New York office, she said. Sibling Wunderman, New York, handled online ads. Sequence designed the freshened, which will feature interactive stories showcasing "human energy" at work within the company.

Accessible at the site is "Energyville," an interactive game showing the tradeoffs of different energy sources for the fictional Power City. Developed in partnership with The Economist Group and Picture This, some 160,000 people in 170 countries have played the game since it went live in early September. They're spending an average of 10 minutes with the game, an engagement that pleases Ms. Clark.

Chevron is aggressively investing to grow its business to expand energy supplies, spending $19.6 billion in 2007 vs. $11.1 billion in 2005, a spokeswoman said. The company reported net income of $10 billion in the first half of 2007, a 21% jump from the same year-ago period.

Advertising Age Embedded Player
Most Popular
In this article: