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  #1  
Old 01-01-2003, 07:02 PM
Jinx Jinx is offline
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Why Did Esso become Exxon in USA?

Maybe someone can explain why Esso had to become Exxon, and yet no other station had to change (unless Amoco came from Standard Oil, IIRC]? It had something to do with anti-trust. something about how the parent co couldn't own the refineries, trucks, AND stations. Maybe someone can explain the history is here, and why it took until the 1970's for this change to occur. Shouldn't this have all been settled when the last of the Robber-Barrons ruled the financial world? - Jinx
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2003, 07:15 PM
astro astro is online now
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IIRC it was more about trademark restrictions than anti-trust issues. Three slightly different versions.

Texas History

Quote:
In the 1960s and early 1970s the management of both Humble and Standard Oil of New Jersey had become increasingly concerned about the lack of a unified public corporate identity. At the same time, the other Standard Oil companies were raising objections to the use of the word Esso, derived from the first letters of the words Standard Oil, as the brand name for Humble and Standard of New Jersey gasoline products. In early 1972 Humble and Standard of New Jersey announced that their gasoline products were to be marketed as Exxon, that Standard of New Jersey was changing its name to Exxon Corporation, and that, as of January 1, 1973, Humble was changing its name to Exxon Company, U.S.A.
Exxon Mobil

Quote:
In 1926, New Jersey Standard introduced the trade name Esso, but was later legally barred from using it in many US states by other Standard Oil companies. Therefore, in 1972, Standard Oil of New Jersey became Exxon, while many foreign affiliates still use the Esso brand name. Standard Oil of New York became Mobil in 1966.


From the horse's month

Quote:
Through the 1930s, the two companies each vigorously built up every segment of its business, from production and pipelines to refining and research. They also expanded across the United States and abroad. In 1931, Socony merged with Vacuum Oil Company, an industry pioneer dating back to 1866 and a major Standard Oil spin-off in its own right.

In 1933, Jersey Standard and Socony-Vacuum combined their Asia-Pacific interests into a fully integrated, 50-50 joint venture. Standard-Vacuum Oil Company, or "Stanvac," operated in 50 countries, from East Africa to New Zealand, before it was dissolved in 1962. World War II interrupted the spirit of expansion, as both companies switched their priorities to fueling and lubricating the Allied war effort.

Global growth resumed in the post-war era of economic prosperity. Corporate names became aligned with better-known trademarks. Socony-Vacuum became Socony Mobil Oil Company in 1955 and simply Mobil Oil Corporation in 1966. A decade later, a newly incorporated Mobil Corporation embraced Mobil Oil as a subsidiary. Jersey Standard changed its name to Exxon Corporation in 1972 and replaced Esso with Exxon as an uncontested trademark throughout the United States. In other parts of the world, Exxon and its petroleum affiliates stuck by the familiar Esso trademark and company name.
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Old 01-01-2003, 07:33 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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The story of Standard Oil is very long and ridiculously convoluted. Regarding Esso to Exxon:

Esso / Jersey Standard was not happy not being able to market nationwide as Esso. Humble did not have the right zip to it either. Enco had a bad sound or meaning in other languages. ("Stalled Car" is the nicer transliteration I have heard.) The company brainstormed, looking for a new name close to Esso, but with no current meaning in any other languages. They came up with was Exxon. Starting in 1972, Jersey Standard changed its name to Exxon, and re-branded their US stations to this new corporate identity. Esso is still used by the company outside of the United States, but the Standard name was officially gone from the US operations of the former holding company of the Standard Oil Trust.

This comes from this page. Amoco, Chevron, Texaco and others all seem to have come from SO originally!

I seem to remember that the word Exxon was generated randomly by a computer.
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  #4  
Old 01-01-2003, 08:14 PM
racer72 racer72 is offline
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I worked as an Esso station at the time of the name change over. The owner of the station did not want to pay for the new signage, it would have cost around $500, so he closed the station and retired instead.
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  #5  
Old 01-01-2003, 08:33 PM
stockton stockton is offline
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News flash, from an inside source:
There is no Exxon anymore. It's ExxonMobil.

Anyone remember SOHIO?
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2003, 08:43 PM
Ringo Ringo is offline
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How long until they drop the Mobil and go back to being just Exxon (thinking of the couple of years it took BP-Amoco to finish digesting Amoco and go back to being just BP)?
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Old 01-01-2003, 08:44 PM
Ringo Ringo is offline
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Oh yes, and speaking of BP, I do remember Sohio.
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Old 01-01-2003, 08:56 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Cecil dealt with this in a column that appears not have made it into the online archive yet. But in summary, what he said was that when the original Standard Oil Company was broken up into five regional companies (shades of Bell Telephone!), each had the right to use it in particular geographic areas:

Standard Oil of New Jersey, which used Esso ("S.O." for Standard Oil) in its area and Enco elswhere

Standard Oil of New York (SOCONY), which became Mobil

Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO)

Standard Oil of Indiana (which was "Standard" in the Midwest and "American" elsewhere, later becoming AMOCO)

Standard Oil of California (CALSO), which became Chevron

In most if not all cases, the need to market under two names, with consequent lack of brand name carry-over even when the logo could be designed to look approximately alike, led to adoption of a new name.
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  #9  
Old 01-01-2003, 09:39 PM
Jinx Jinx is offline
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Excuse me, Stockton, but I have yet to see one gas station identified as ExxonMobil. And, regarding policies, the companies STILL operate as two distinct companies. Regardless, it's Esso that became Exxon. And technically, for the record, Esso did not become ExxonMobile. Exxon became ExxonMobile, if only on paper...because the change is virtually transparent to the consumer. - Jinx
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2003, 02:46 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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As people in advertising can tell you, "x" in a name adds, well, seX appeal.
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  #11  
Old 01-02-2003, 07:26 AM
Yossarian Yossarian is offline
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So, what became of Sohio?
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  #12  
Old 01-02-2003, 07:36 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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IIRC, when the name was coined they wanted to make sure that it didn't mean anything in any language. Only one language (Maltese, IIRC), used a double x, so that was a starting point.

They also wanted to clean slate so no one could trademark the name before they did. Some people -- the equivalent of cybersquatters -- would go from country to country and trademark American trademarks as their own (e.g., going to Italy and trademarking "General Motors"). Exxon didn't want this to happen, so they made up a name and trademarked it everywhere as a precautiong.
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  #13  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:17 AM
Cliffy Cliffy is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pantellerite
So, what became of Sohio?
About 10 or 15 years ago all the Sohio stations became BP's; I assume BP bought the company.

--Cliffy
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:19 AM
Cliffy Cliffy is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ringo
How long until they drop the Mobil and go back to being just Exxon (thinking of the couple of years it took BP-Amoco to finish digesting Amoco and go back to being just BP)?
The joke going around at the time of the merger was "What's the British English pronounciation of 'BP-Amoco'?" "Bee-Pee."

--Cliffy
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  #15  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:27 AM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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In California, Exxon stations are now called "Valero." I didn't realize that there were still Exxon stations elsewhere. I guess the Valdez didn't do so much damage to Exxon's image in the rest of the U.S....?
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  #16  
Old 01-02-2003, 12:54 PM
brad_d brad_d is offline
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There's a relatively new (less than a year old) Exxon station in Long Beach, California. Corner of Cherry and Del Amo.

Mobil stations are all over the place here. I've never seen a station branded ExxonMobil.
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  #17  
Old 01-02-2003, 01:26 PM
Mehitabel Mehitabel is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by racer72
I worked as an Esso station at the time of the name change over. The owner of the station did not want to pay for the new signage, it would have cost around $500, so he closed the station and retired instead.
Whoa. Now that's a slim profit margin.

It was a shocker seeing an Esso station up in Canada last year. I even took a picture.

My Dad said Exxon stood for the "dirty-double-crossing" oil company, so there's one bad thing you can say about randomly generated names.

In NY and Massachusetts I still see Exxon stations.
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2003, 02:33 PM
JohnM JohnM is offline
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While I've never seen an ExxonMobil branded station, I have been writing out checks to "ExxonMobil MCCBG" for some time now, so the credit operations have been merged. Also, my Mobil SpeedPass works at properly equipped Exxon stations. Does that portend an eventual co-branding of the stations? Probably, if past corporate history is any indication.

BTW, MCCBG is Monogram Credit Card Bank of Georgia, which is used by a number of companies for their credit card collections.
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Old 01-02-2003, 09:11 PM
Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
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Whatever happened to Standard Oil?
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  #20  
Old 01-03-2003, 07:06 PM
stockton stockton is offline
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Yes, Jinx, you're completely right - I just meant that the Exxon umbrella was now (probably temporarily) ExxonMobil. JohnM and others are also correct, there's no such thing as an ExxonMobil station. I was just (clumsily) pointing out that the "company" had changed names again.

Sorry to be so obtuse. Carry on.
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  #21  
Old 01-03-2003, 11:40 PM
Troy McClure SF Troy McClure SF is offline
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Here in SF, I can think of at least one "Standard" gas station. If you don't read the familiar blue/white marquee, then you probably wouldn't even notice it wasn't a Chevron. (Van Ness/California-ish)

There's also a McDonald's on Market Street that has a neon "Standard" sign, a fake (or refurbished?) gas pump, and a Standard gas station motif throughout. Very strange.
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  #22  
Old 01-04-2003, 03:15 AM
Jeff Lodoen Jeff Lodoen is offline
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And "Roxxon" sounds way more sinister than "Rosso".

(geeky I know)
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  #23  
Old 01-04-2003, 09:01 AM
MC$E MC$E is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ringo
How long until they drop the Mobil and go back to being just Exxon (thinking of the couple of years it took BP-Amoco to finish digesting Amoco and go back to being just BP)?
Here in central MD, we had both BP and Amoco stations. The name BP went away, and they all became Amoco's. Maybe it's a regional thing.
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  #24  
Old 01-04-2003, 10:17 PM
wolfstu wolfstu is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mehitabel
Whoa. Now that's a slim profit margin.

It was a shocker seeing an Esso station up in Canada last year. I even took a picture.
They're all over the place (in Canada), as you may have noticed. I had long thought they were a Canadian company from two clues: the connection with 'Imperial Oil' (Sounded like an unlikley brand name for an American company) and the semblance to the French essence, meaning (usually), fuel, specifically gasoline. Being used to businesses in Canada trying to make up names that work in both English and French, Esso fit very well.
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  #25  
Old 09-20-2013, 06:42 AM
zelskid zelskid is offline
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I heard that Esso discovered their name meant no go in Japanese. That come from my bro0ther who worked for them in the seventies.

Last edited by zelskid; 09-20-2013 at 06:46 AM..
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  #26  
Old 09-20-2013, 07:26 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zelskid View Post
I heard that Esso discovered their name meant no go in Japanese. That come from my bro0ther who worked for them in the seventies.
It is only Chevy Novas that won't go with Esso in them.
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  #27  
Old 09-20-2013, 07:51 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Moderator Note

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, zelskid. Please note that the thread you are replying to is over ten years old. We tend to refer to old posts like this that have been revived as "zombies". Don't be surprised if your comment receives a few zombie jokes as responses. While zombies are permitted here, we ask that you only revive an old thread if you have new information or something substantial to contribute to the topic.

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  #28  
Old 09-20-2013, 09:07 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zelskid View Post
I heard that Esso discovered their name meant no go in Japanese. That come from my bro0ther who worked for them in the seventies.
A great illustration of the ways that urban legends mutate over the years.

There was a story that the Chevy Nova didn't sell well in Spanish-speaking countries because no va means "no go." That's idiotic, and it's hard to tell whether it started as a joke or whether people actually believed it.

Of course, I also can't be sure if zelskid was just making a joke, too. That's the problem with joking about idiocy; it's a subset of Poe's law.
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  #29  
Old 09-20-2013, 09:58 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is online now
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One of the things that was odd for me as an American was to go to Canada and see the Esso stations - they had the same color scheme/livery as Exxon, but it was called something different. It was one of a few subtle differences that let me know I wasn't in America anymore.

Interestingly enough, the Esso name doesn't seem to be fully dead in the US - many Exxon stations brand their diesel pump as "Esso diesel". This could be a way to inconspicuously hold on to the trademark as an asset - it is my understanding that Verizon (another survivor of a breakup...) is doing the same thing with the old Bell System trademark. They quit using it as a primary branding image/identity back in the late 90's (ish), and transitioned to sticking it inconspicuously on repair vans and on payphones seemingly almost as an afterthought. The idea is that if they decide to bring the Bell System logo back as part of a re-imaging or marketing gimmick, they can claim legally that they never stopped using the trademark, and there is a principle in US law that if you abandon a trademark it becomes fair game for others.

BP (who bought Amoco) seems to be doing something similar - their premium gas is branded "Amoco Ultimate" even though the rest of the station is labeled BP. Thus they can keep the "Amoco" name as an asset.

Last edited by robert_columbia; 09-20-2013 at 10:02 AM..
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  #30  
Old 09-20-2013, 11:22 AM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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I thought it just sounded cooler.

BTW My first "real" job was working for a sign company that got a contract to change 725 of those signs.
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  #31  
Old 09-20-2013, 12:07 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
One of the things that was odd for me as an American was to go to Canada and see the Esso stations - they had the same color scheme/livery as Exxon, but it was called something different. It was one of a few subtle differences that let me know I wasn't in America anymore.

Interestingly enough, the Esso name doesn't seem to be fully dead in the US - many Exxon stations brand their diesel pump as "Esso diesel". This could be a way to inconspicuously hold on to the trademark as an asset - it is my understanding that Verizon (another survivor of a breakup...) is doing the same thing with the old Bell System trademark. They quit using it as a primary branding image/identity back in the late 90's (ish), and transitioned to sticking it inconspicuously on repair vans and on payphones seemingly almost as an afterthought. The idea is that if they decide to bring the Bell System logo back as part of a re-imaging or marketing gimmick, they can claim legally that they never stopped using the trademark, and there is a principle in US law that if you abandon a trademark it becomes fair game for others.

BP (who bought Amoco) seems to be doing something similar - their premium gas is branded "Amoco Ultimate" even though the rest of the station is labeled BP. Thus they can keep the "Amoco" name as an asset.
And Mobil still hasn't retired Pegasus; it's on the side of their convenience stores.
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  #32  
Old 09-22-2013, 06:12 AM
jovan jovan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zelskid View Post
I heard that Esso discovered their name meant no go in Japanese. That come from my bro0ther who worked for them in the seventies.
That's just not true. Esso-branded stations are fairly common here.

http://www.emg-ss.jp/ss-search/

I can't think of a common word or expression that sounds like "Esso" and means "no-go".
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  #33  
Old 09-22-2013, 07:35 AM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
Moderator Note

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, zelskid. Please note that the thread you are replying to is over ten years old. We tend to refer to old posts like this that have been revived as "zombies". Don't be surprised if your comment receives a few zombie jokes as responses. While zombies are permitted here, we ask that you only revive an old thread if you have new information or something substantial to contribute to the topic.

Also, please note that due to this thread's extreme age, many of its original participants are likely no longer around to respond to your comments. In the future, please consider carefully whether or not a response is worthy of reviving such an old thread.
You just cut/paste that spiel don't you?
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  #34  
Old 09-22-2013, 09:41 AM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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put a zombie in your tank.

Esso had trouble when people though that tigers were being hunted down to provide fuel additives. It was a public relations nightmare. ExxonMobil contributes to Save the Tiger Fund in order to remove that lingering perception.
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  #35  
Old 09-22-2013, 10:09 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
You just cut/paste that spiel don't you?
Hope so. Seems awfully silly not to.
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