David beats big oil Goliath

Sunoco had an incredible product to sell: ultra-high octane gasoline that was also ultra-clean. What they didn’t have was budget. In the fight against big-oil competitors, it would need to be brain over brawn.

I helped them tap the tension between high performance and clean - two contrary brand attributes. This tension was the foundation of a campaign that was simple, cost-effective, durable and powerful.

Fresh thinking at the pump

Sunoco didn’t have big oil budgets. So instead of TV commercials and sports sponsorships, we went back to the basics – the gas station. Specifically, we did pump topper ads – small posters on top of the gas pumps.

Using Sunoco yellow and blue, we created a license plate poster that would fit over each pump. It was a consistent, branded template that would be constantly refreshed with new mean and green brand messages. 

Our campaign started with seven headlines. This became seven new headlines a month. After six months, Sunoco staffers started submitting lines of their own. They proudly owned the campaign.

The result

Hundreds of headlines later, the campaign took on a life of its own. We even created an auto show car with over 150 license plate ads on it. 

The campaign had stopping power. Not only did drivers get a new headline every week for a year. But we distance tested sign legibility, and discovered they could be read across two lanes of traffic. 

Sunoco continued to run, and expand the campaign for years.

What about your project?

Book a time, and let’s talk. The first conversation is free, and I guarantee you’ll walk away with at least 3 positive steps you can take.