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Palgrave Macmillan

Marketing Big Oil

Brand Lessons from the World's Largest Companies

ISBN 9781137389169
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Pivot

For the largest oil companies – referred to as Big Oil – branding and brand management are complex, due to the historical negativity surrounding the original Big Oil company – Standard Oil. Even though today's largest oil companies, Exxon Mobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron, have spent millions on improving their corporate brand image and reputation, negativity continues to surround these firms.

Marketing Big Oil begins with an historical perspective looking at how Big Oil came to be through a series of monumental acquisitions, first through the breakup of Standard Oil in the late 19th century and then with the large mergers and acquisitions in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Robinson analyzes the marketing and corporate branding programs of these oil titans to demonstrate what does and doesn't work, and shows us how even the largest companies sometimes fail to get their message across. He explores the industry's use of social media, mobile e-commerce, advertising, app development, and more.

Mark L. Robinson is Professor of Marketing at Virginia International University, USA; a former marketing and communications executive with both Deloitte's Global Energy and Resources group and ExxonMobil; and President and CEO of Capitol Hill Communications, LLC. He earned his PhD at the International School of Management in New York, USA.

1. Big Oil and the Love-Hate Relationship
2. The Oil Refining Era: 1863 – 1869
3. The Standard Oil Empire Reigns Supreme: 1870 – 1900
4. The End of One Oil Empire and the Beginning of Another:1905 – 1911
5. The Arrogant and Aloof Oil Company
6. How BP Destroyed a Corporate Brand
7. The Exxon Valdez: A Failure in Brand Crisis Leadership
8. Shell versus Greenpeace and Brent Spar
9. The Tarnished BP Brand: From Texas City to Price Fixing
10. Chevron vs. Ecuador: How a Strong Brand Defends Itself
11. A 'Shell' Game for Investors
12. Marketing and Advertising Innovation at Mobil Oil
13. The Brand Disconnect Between BP and 'Beyond Petroleum'
14. Chevron and the Evolution of Human Energy
15. Brand Building at Shell Oil
16. Building Loyalty: Improving the Retail Fueling Experience
17. Communicating With the Masses: Big Oil and Social Media


"With Robinson's background in oil, and his extensive travels around the world, this book offers a balanced view of an industry which has traditionally focused on engineering obstacles and price gyrations rather than endearing themselves to the consumer. Some recent catastrophic events have shown the importance of a strong corporate brand and good PR, and Robinson's analysis connects decades of events into a common thread. I wonder why no one thought of such an interesting subject before?" - Christopher G. Nicholson, Founder, Deloitte Global Energy and Resources
"This book is exhaustively researched and a wonderful account of the history of the so called Big Oil companies and their public image problems. Dr. Robinson carefully crafts how these companies shape what they say about themselves and create a public image in marketing campaigns. With choice languages and symbols, they frame a message to be received by consumers that may or may not reflect what these big oil companies actually do. The breadth and depth of this penetrating work shows the disconnect between what these oil companies say and their corresponding actions. As an African that has lived the contradictions of perceptions and experiences from these oil companies, I salute Dr. Robinson for his insight and courage in helping us understand how these oil companies operate in emerging markets. This is a gripping and a compelling work that takes you inside the making and operations of the big oil companies." - Stephen Onu, Chair, African Integrity Group
"Robinson's engaging and timely book on a complex marketing arena brings forth some 'crude' home truths, backed up by historical context and lessons from the corporate world, all weaved into a balanced industry perspective on the state of affairs in a digitally savvy world. Budding marketing professionals as well as industry veterans, and those interested in how some of world's biggest oil and gas companies succeed (or fail) in etching their global brand equity would find this book to be a thoroughly good read." - Oilholics Synonymous
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