What happened to the commercials for brand name gasoline?

For decades oil companies advertised on TV how their gasoline was better than the rest, better detergents, more power from your car, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I haven’t seen an ad like that for a long time. Now if there is even a commercial for a gas station like Speed Way or Kwik Trip, it’s all about the crap you can get in the store part and hardly a mention is made about the quality of their gas. But those are just stations. Mobil, Citgo, Amoco, BP, etc… Haven’t seen a commercial for how great their petrol is for ages.

What’s the reason for this?

The reason for this is that the public didn’t buy it, by and large. Choices about where to buy fuel are driven by (a) convenience - Is the filling station near your home? On your regular commute? On the right side of the road? - and (b) price. If you spend a lot of money trying to persuade people that brand X is superior to brand Y, that’s a cost that you have to recover through price, and the number of people whose purchasing decisions will be positively influenced by the ads is smaller than the number whose purchasing decisions will be negatively influenced by the prices you charge to pay for the ads.

Basically, energy is energy, and the public don’t believe that brand is an indicator of quality when it comes to petrol any more than they will believe it when it comes to electricity or gas or heating oil or whatever.

Curiously, for the first time in years, locally there is a BP advert for their premium petrol claiming superior cleaning capabilities.

Everyone knows that all the actual raw fuel comes here from the same refinery in Singapore in the same tanker. The only differentiation is price and additives. Control of price is a very strange game here, and is more akin to chaos than anything else. Ownership of commercial filling stations has passed from the oil companies in many cases anyway. So they often don’t care about consumer brand awareness.

Cynically I suspect that the advertising isn’t about the fuel at all. BP is in the local news, as they want to start exploratory drilling offshore. Given they are also in the news with the civil settlements for the Mancondo disaster, they might, by some perverse logic, be trying to raise their profile as a nice guy company. Strange times altogether.

I disagree. At least historically. It wouldn’t take corporate America over 70 years to figure out their marketing wasn’t working. Also, going back to the 60’s I’ve known a ton of people who were fiercely loyal to the brand of gas they liked. So much so that I knew folks who would actually run out of gas while passing a station as it wasn’t “their brand”. As fucked up as that sounds to you and I it really did happened.

What I’ve observed is consumer indifference to what brand is used has run parallel to the decline in major oil companies running TV commercial. Cause & effect? And if so, which came first?

Could it be that cars are more reliable and powerful than they used to be, so people aren’t desperate for a magic gasoline additive that will solve all their engine problems?

Well yeah back then they were talking about quality, suggesting the other brands had more gunk in them.

Now gasoline additives are a thing, the different brands saying their additive is better.
Its This >>>> Top Tier Detergent Gasoline - Wikipedia

One brand doesn’t supply theirs to this area, because there is no supplier for it here. That means really they just buy BP’s in the rest of Australia, I assume,but here they buy Caltex which doesnt do additives (here)

So I figure the decline in advertising for petroleum chains in the western countries is really that they sell each others fuel at various locations…

Its economy of scale, the cost of running small refineries has increased so that its no longer worthwhile, eg if the small refinery with only one cracking tower has a problem, the staff get paid while the refinery sits idle, the company then has to rush to buy fuel and pay for rapid delivery to make up for the shortfall …

Larger refineries can afford to employ the repair team on call and avoid downtime by having a numer of cracking towers running at the same time, so if one is down they can keep up production with the others, perhaps a bit less efficiently…

Because the Left was able to get regulations in place which made all gasoline pretty much the same, at the cost of the consumers. And that’s the Straight Dope.

Ah. Perhaps what I should have said is that the public ceased to buy this line. I remember brand-specific fuel ads up to about 20 years ago, or maybe 25 years ago. But they abandoned them because the public ceased to believe that there was, in reality, any material difference in quality between the fuel sold by different distribution networks. As others in the thread have pointed out, frequently fuel sold under different brands in fact comes from the same refineries. Petrol really is a fungible, and once people became aware of this brand advertising ceased to be cost-effective. For a time they briefly switched to advertising various marketing promotions (collect loyalty points and get these wonderful free gifts!) but that dried up fairly quickly too.

I have seen long threads on motoring forums here about the respective merits of different brands. Some, like me, are happy to buy supermarket fuel because it’s the cheapest. Others claim that the additives that BP put in are worth the extra cost.

It is certainly noticeable that ‘brand awareness’ adverts have decline, and not just from oil companies. The various recessions have probably made them take a long hard look at the cost effectiveness and they decided that they could spend the cash better elsewhere.

From memory, the only such ad running on TV at the moment, is the one from Lloyds Bank. Since the government is busy selling off its shares in that company, I guess they are trying to boost the perceived value. It stands out from the common run of ads though and may well win an award.

Anyone remember Esso’s “Tiger in your tank”?

One factor which just occurred to me as a possibility is the rise of general-market credit cards. When I was a kid, my parents had an Esso credit card for gas, so they would go to Esso stations when possible.

When MasterCard and Visa became widely accepted, it was no longer necessary to favor one brand over another, because all the stations took any card.

So, brand loyalty went away, and, perhaps, took brand advertising with it.

Just speculation on my part. What do you all think?

All gasoline was pretty much the same from the beginning. The additives were just window dressing.

There have been government mandated changes, but that was to reduce pollution. Oil companies welcomed it – believe it or not, they didn’t have any great drive to pollute the environment, but no one wanted to make the change unilaterally and lose sales to companies that happily sold cheap gas with plenty of polluting chemicals. The changes did affect prices, but it also reduced the expenses of living in a polluted environment.

Back when there were commercials for gas stations, the gas stations were, well,…gas stations.
The employees pumped the gas for you, and checked your oil. And there were pretty good mechanics who worked there with pride and gave good service.
I still remember a jingle for Texaco(?) " You can trust your car to the man who wears a star".

Now, the stations are convenience stores–with milk, bread,cola, and gas pumps.

And the public thinks of them that way.

Long gone are the days when you could be convinced to remain loyal to your favorite brand-name gas station.

I would say that the gas commercials disappeared because the nature of the business changed, and people’s attitudes changed to the point where commercials would no longer be effective.

Indeed. Altho, in the early days there were differences due to refining techniques. A great episode of Modern Marvels deals with Gasoline. The whole thing (44 minutes) is fascinating, but the money part WRT this thread occurs between 31:50 and 34:40, where they discuss how most gasoline comes to us thru common pipelines and the only difference between brands now is the additives (which all do about the same thing).

Perhaps as stated up-thread, people came to know this fact and brand-name gas lost-out to convenience and the ability to get other items while there (food, drinks, etc.).

I would also agree with BrotherCadfael that ubiquitous credit meant the gas stations could capture more market rather than limiting themselves to only their own credit holders. I would suspect gas gift cards are more popular than a line a credit from one of the gas companies.

That makes too much sense for me to see CEOs and managers making that choice.

Another issue is the decline in car enthusiasts.

A very large fraction of the driving public is utterly indifferent to their car. “Get in and go” is all they think about. For somebody starting from that place, caring about gasoline brand is pretty much unthinkable.

Got facts?

“Cost?” Sounds like a consumer benefit. I appreciate knowing all gas stations will meet minimum quality standards.

Unleaded gasoline is regionally distributed. One refinery will supply all in the surrounding area. It is sold via the wholesale rack to the retailers. So the Exxon station, the Chevron station, the independent station, the Texaco station, etc. all in the same town buy their gas from the same wholesale distributor. They each then add their own additives if they wish. That’s they way it has always been. The quality standards, ethanol requirements, etc. hasn’t changed any of that.

So buy the gas in your community that’s the cheapest or most convenient, it’s all coming from the same refinery.

If your community is net short unleaded, meaning there is not enough refining capacity to supply the demand, then your additional supply will be coming via truck or pipeline most likely from the US gulf coast.

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Let’s refrain from political jabs in General Questions. No warning issued, but don’t do this again.

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