BP redesigned its brand at the turn of the century by changing their name to two letters (they were formerly “British Petroleum”), and by changing their logo from uppercase serif type on a heavy green shield, into friendlier, lowercase letterforms nestling up to a… sunflower—a kaleidoscopic fire wheel that looks something like the way your eyes go when you stare at the sun for too long. A brilliant move, this, an oil company appropriating symbols of the environmental movement to reinvent their corporate identity. Theirs was the most astonishing metamorphosis, creating a new paradigm for the re-branding of gasoline that turned oil into energy.
But that is the distant past—several versions of the Matrix ago, for all we know. This year we have upgrades. Chevron and Shell have released marathon television spots touting the human values of oil companies. In the former a narrator converses with the viewer about “the story of our time” and the company’s diversifying pursuit of “human energy.” The second is from a short film (i.e. really long ad) depicting a globe-trotting company engineer (called Jaap) receiving technical inspiration while spending time with his son. The commercials were released earlier, but its funny that I first saw them last week, the same week Al Gore received his half of a Nobel Prize for raising awareness about climate change.
Meanwhile, autumn has come to New England and it’s starting to get cold here… for now.*
* Pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist.