Showing posts with label Palgrave Macmillan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Palgrave Macmillan. Show all posts

Monday, December 08, 2014

The difficult art of marketing ‘Big Oil’

Given the historical and perhaps customary negativity surrounding oil and gas majors in the best of times, working on their marketing pitches and brand equity enhancement is not for the faint hearted.

Environmental disasters and subsequent public relations fiascos in wake of incidents such as Exxon Valdez and BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill have only reinforced negative perceptions about ‘Big Oil’ in the minds of many. 

It all dates way back to Standard Oil, a company often castigated for its practices in the last century, writes Mark Robinson, professor of marketing at Virginia International University, in his recent work Marketing Big Oil published by Palgrave Pivot.

With pitfalls aplenty for oil and gas marketing professionals, the author has attempted to offer guidance on the arduous task by going well beyond the mundane 'do’s' and 'don’ts' in a book of just under 160 pages, split into five parts and 17 splendidly sequenced chapters. As it happens, Robinson knows more than a thing or two about marketing Big Oil, having been an industry executive at Deloitte’s Global Energy & Resources Group and ExxonMobil.

His book provides adequate subjective treatment, lessons from history and what approaches to adopt if marketing Big Oil is what you do or intend to do. Starting with the historical context provided by Standard Oil, the author leads readers on to present day challenges faced by oil and gas companies as we’ve come to know them.

The Oilholic really liked Robinson’s no holds barred analysis of marketing and branding exercises undertaken by industry participants and his detailed examination of what worked and what tanked given the millions that were spent. The author says throwing money at a campaign is no guarantor of success as many companies within the sector have found out to their cost.

Managing pitfalls forms an integral part of Robinson’s message; just ask BP with its ‘Beyond Petroleum’ slogan. Perceived disconnect between the slogan, what the company was up to, and subsequent events made it sound farcical. The saga, what went wrong with the campaign and lessons in its wake are described in some detail by the author.

Additionally, a part of the book is dedicated to managing a brand crisis. The entire text is well referenced and accompanied by 14 brand lessons treating various crucial marketing facets. Analysis of the industry's use of social media, e-commerce, mobile apps and digital advertising is fascinating too.

Overall, Robinson’s engaging and timely book on a complex marketing arena brings forth some 'crude' home truths, backed up by historical context and lessons from the corporate world, all weaved into a balanced industry perspective on the state of affairs in a digitally savvy world.

Budding marketing professionals as well as industry veterans, and those interested in how some of world’s biggest oil and gas companies succeed (or fail) in etching their global brand equity would find this book to be a thoroughly good read.

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© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo: Front Cover – Marketing Big Oil: Brand Lessons from the World's Largest Companies © Palgrave Macmillan, July 2014.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Charting the love-hate relationship with big oil

If the oil companies had answers to the energy crisis, and in some cases maybe they do, would you believe them? Given that most of us grow up loathing big oil for a multitude of reasons ranging from environmental to monetary ones while filling up the gas tank, all thoughts put forward by energy companies become suspect.

Or as the author of the book – Why we hate the oil companies? Straight talk from an energy insider – asks, would you accept the fox’s plan for the hen coop? Written by none other than John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell, it examines what’s behind the energy companies' swagger or perceived swagger.

Having made the transition from being a mere consumer of gasoline to the president of a major oil company, Hofmeister attempts to feel the pulse of public sentiment which ranges from indifference to pure hatred of those who produce the crude stuff. Spread over 270 pages split by 14 chapters, this book does its best to offer a reasonably convincing insider’s account of the industry.

Along the way it dwells on how politicians and special interest groups use energy misinformation and disinformation to meet their own odds and ends in a high stakes game. Hofmeister founded the US Citizens for Affordable Energy; an American grassroots campaign aimed changing the way the US looks at energy and energy security.

So this book benefits from his thoughts on solving energy issues, offering targeted solutions on affordable and clean energy, environmental protection and sustained economic competitiveness. The tone is a surprisingly frank one and research is solid. It is also no corporate waffle from an oilman lest sceptics dismiss it as such without reading it.

The Oilholic believes it even throws up some pragmatic solutions which appear sound at least on paper. So while there is little not to like about the book, there is one glaring caveat. It is just way too American in its scope. Yours truly is happy to recommend this book to our friends across the pond in North America; but readers elsewhere while appreciating the narrative, may come to the same conclusion.

© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Photo: Front Cover – Why we hate the oil companies? Straight talk from an energy insider © Palgrave Macmillan

Contact:

For comments or for professional queries, please email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

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