Can Oil Companies Go Green?

chevronlogo.jpgIs it possible for an oil company to change its brand image/essence? Can we be convinced of their sincerity as they try and convince us that they want to “go green”?
What is a brand? According to the AMA a brand is “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. Brands can include products, services, events etc. According to Lyn Upshaw, the true meaning of a brand is when trust is transformed into value. (Upshaw lecture 10/22/05)

Can marketers establish branding and maintain integrity at the same time? Marketing integrity involves establishing equitable partnerships with their targets through the use of honorable intention. It includes attempts to achieve/ attain the highest performance standards possible. Pricing should reflect value. Promotions need to be honest and promises should be met and/or exceeded.
Marketing integrity lends itself to green branding. It has been well recognized that “customers care about their environment and appear conscious of environmental issues in their life style and behavior.” (Ackerstein & Lemon, PG 263).
Chevron, with its “willyoujoinus” campaign, is trying to establish itself as a “green” company with integrity.
A recent advertisement found in the FT (9/26/05) states that Chevron is taking steps to consider future energy resources while finding better energy for today. We learn from this ad that although the demand for oil is increasing, by over 40% by 2025, the world has been finding less oil than it has been using for the past 20 yrs. Not only is it harder to find oil, the oil that we are finding is harder to refine. Chevron recommends that we get more oil from existing fields, search for new reserves, and convince automakers to improve fuel efficiency while perfecting hybrids. They tell us to support research that will allow wind, solar and hydrogen to become more viable parts of the energy equation. They urge government to create policies that will support us environmentally as well economically. They remind us that as consumers, we must be proactive. “Inaction is not an option” (FT 9/26/05). We all need to work together to solve the energy problem.
Chevron asserts that they are taking steps to help meet the world’s energy demands. They have committed over $100 million dollars yearly toward renewable energies, alternative fuels and improved efficiency. In addition, their contribution to meeting energy needs in the short run include record highs in exploration and the development of new techniques to utilize current oil supplies more efficiently.
So, is Chevron “greening” their brand? According to Ackerstien and Lemon greening a brand involves for the most part, improved environmental performance, knowledge of one’s target market, and knowledge of how customers perceive a product in relation to the environment. (Ackerstein and Lemon, PG 263).
Are we convinced that Chevron is successfully greening their brand? It will take more than a “flashy” ad in the FT to convince me.
Upshaw, Lyn Lecture 10/22/05
Financial Times 9/26/05
Ackerstein, Daniel, S. and Katherine A. Lemon (1999) Greening the Brand: Environmental Marketing Strategies and the American Consumer (chapter 15), in: Charter, M and Polonsky, M.J. (eds),
Greener Marketing: A Global Perspective on Greening Marketing Practice. Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield, UK

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