Pining for Amoco

June 17, 2010
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As if BP didn’t have enough to worry about, it now must convince the American press to stop using its old name, British Petroleum.

British Petroleum shortened its name to the initials in 2001 and the media obliged. By the time the spill erupted April 20, British Petroleum had all but vanished here in the states.

Then the old name made a huge comeback. It was mentioned in 12 percent of all references to BP by May 3, according to The Economist. The old name has leveled off near 8 percent of references, but that’s still uncomfortably frequent for other British companies fearing a backlash against anything Britannia.

Maybe British Petroleum execs feared Americans would snub a blatantly British oil company after its 1998 acquisition of Chicago-based Amoco Corp. Amoco was the successor to Standard Oil Indiana, which was founded by John D. Rockefeller when he opened a refinery in the northwestern Indiana town of Whiting in 1889.

BP could have kept the ghost in chains by changing its name completely, says David Cranfill, president of Indianapolis advertising firm Three-Sixty Group Inc.

Cranfill thinks the BP shorthand leaves customers confused and possible even with an empty feeling. Just what does BP stand for, anyway? he asks. If it weren’t for pumps at the convenience stores, one wouldn’t know the company sells gas.

“Whenever you brand a company, the most important thing is to make sure that within that brand you capture or convey the company’s identity as opposed to an image,” he says. “There’s no product that’s related to the name BP.”

Mentioning his fondness for the Amoco stations in his neighborhood, Cranfill adds, “I’ve never felt any real connection to BP.”

What about you? Any thoughts on the name change? About how BP’s handling the spill?


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  1. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!