6001 Bollinger Canyon Road
San Ramon, California 94583
Telephone: (925) 842-1000
Fax: (925) 842-1000
Web site: www.chevron.com
NOTE: Since the initial appearance of this essay in the 1999 edition of Major Marketing Campaigns Annual, Texaco Inc. and Chevron Corporation merged. The essay continues to refer to the company's name as Texaco, as that was the official name of the organization when the campaign was launched.
In 1997 Texaco was the fifth-largest marketer of crude oil, natural gas, and other related products. On the list of rival companies that were outperforming Texaco were the Exxon Corporation, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, BP p.l.c., and Mobil Corporation. To boost its market share Texaco needed to increase sales, but the brand's image had been tarnished during the early 1990s. Texaco had been accused of polluting rainforests, overpricing its products, and institutionalizing racism in the workplace. Texaco executives calculated that improving their brand's image would help sales; it was with this goal in mind that Texaco introduced its "A World of Energy" campaign.
"A World of Energy" was the most expensive campaign in Texaco's 95-year history. The New York office of the BBDO Worldwide ad agency released the print and television campaign with $30 million, which was half of Texaco's annual marketing budget. Commercials debuted on Labor Day weekend in 1997. The actor Paul Newman provided the voice-over: "See Texaco run and develop, invent, visualize, hypothesize, explore, discover, and relentlessly search. Seek … and find the energy the world needs to run. Run world, run." As Newman said, "See the world run," the spot showed a baby gazing at a revolving toy complete with moving cars, planes, and trains. The scene shifted to quick shots of a helicopter taking flight, a nun operating a lawn mower, a line of Texaco's tanker trucks carrying fuel, and Texaco workers searching for oil under the sea and in rugged mountains. Honoring the Screen Actors Guild strike in 2000, Newman did not provide a voice-over for the campaign's last spots, which aired during the 2000 Summer Olympics. The campaign ended a few months later.
Texaco reported an annual revenue drop from $45.5 billion in 1996 down to $35.7 billion in 1999. According to ad critics, however, the campaign did help Texaco's image. Texaco improved its relationships with companies that were operated by minorities, and the government-appointed committee monitoring Texaco stated that the company had improved its ethics by diversifying its workforce.
Initially known as Texas Company, Texaco was founded in 1902 by Joseph "Buckskin" Cullinan and Arnold
Schlaet, who struck oil near Beaumont, Texas, in 1903. Texaco's first geophysical laboratory was established in 1919 to create durable seismic recorders for use in the fields where underground reservoirs of oil and natural gas were found. By the 1930s the firm was established throughout most of the United States, in addition to having ventures in numerous other countries, and it had begun marketing oil from the Middle East. In the 1950s and 1960s Texaco sold more gasoline than any other U.S. oil company, but its profits declined during the 1970s as the price of oil from the Middle East began to rise. American consumers responded by purchasing less gasoline, and Texaco closed many of its filling stations. After losing $10.3 billion in a lawsuit involving a merger dispute in 1985, Texaco filed for bankruptcy, from which it emerged in 1988. At the time, it was the largest firm in U.S. history to declare bankruptcy, and the legal judgment against it was the largest that had ever been awarded in a U.S. court, according to Time magazine. By 1998 Texaco ranked third among the nation's oil companies and was operating about two dozen refineries and 23,000 gas stations.
One of Texaco's most successful early marketing efforts was its sponsorship from 1948 to 1956 of the Texaco Star Theater, a television program with entertainer Milton Berle as the master of ceremonies. The show featured singing "men from Texaco … who work from Maine to Mexico." Another popular marketing campaign, "You Can Trust Your Car to the Man Who Wears the Star," was launched in 1962 and continued for more than two decades. It featured a memorable theme song and emphasized the bright red star-shaped logo that appeared on Texaco service stations throughout the country. In 1974 singer and comedian Bob Hope became "the man who wears the star," personifying the Texaco brand in a long series of commercials. In 1988 the "Star of the American Road" campaign was launched to depict Texaco as a...