M&C Saatchi has been hired to promote the merger of BP and Amoco as
the world’s third-largest oil company prepares to review its retail
account later this year.
The official line of the newly christened BP Amoco is that its
relationship with the US-based Doner network, which has handled the BP
retail business for 12 years, will not change in the near future.
But as M&C Saatchi’s first corporate work for the combined company -
backed by a dollars 1 million budget - broke this Thursday in UK and US
newspapers, industry sources said moves were afoot to hold a pitch for
the multi-million pound account later this year.
Much of the impetus for the review is said to be coming from Amoco,
rather than BP.
The appointment of M&C Saatchi follows meetings between Bill Muirhead,
one of the agency’s founding partners, and Sir John Browne, the BP Amoco
chief executive, about how the pounds 33 billion merger should be
presented to opinion formers, shareholders and the financial sector. It
revives a link stretching back to the late 70s when Muirhead, then a
senior executive at Saatchi & Saatchi, successfully pitched alongside
Tim Bell for the BP brand account.
Jeremy Sinclair, who produced some of the earliest creative work on the
account at the Charlotte Street agency, has devised the latest task
under the theme, ’I do’.
The emphasis is on what the company sees as a quick and clean coming
together, although the advertising will not directly address reports of
job losses or whether the marriage is anti-competitive. Media is being
bought by MediaCom, a BP roster shop.
M&C Saatchi was left clear to work on BP last year when a planned
corporate campaign for Shell turned into a scaled-down PR initiative and
the launch of a smart card from a Shell-led consortium fizzled out.
BP’s last corporate campaign, through Saatchi & Saatchi, was more than
two years ago. The agency had already lost the retail business to Doner,
which had been handling Standard Oil of Ohio when BP acquired it.
Doner sources claim assurances have been given that the retail business,
covering 15,300 petrol stations in the US and more than 2,000 in the UK,
is safe with the agency.