76 (gas station)

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76
76 Orange Logo.svg
Union 76 Gas Station.jpg
76 gas station pictured in 2010
Product typeService stations
OwnerPhillips 66 (since 2012)
Introduced1932; 89 years ago (1932) (as Union 76)
Related brands
MarketsUnited States
Previous owners
TaglineLive to the Full[1]
Website76.com

76 (formerly Union 76) is a chain of gas stations located within the United States. The 76 brand is currently owned by Phillips 66 Company.[2] Union Oil Company of California, dba Unocal, the original owner and creator of the 76 brand, merged with Chevron Corporation in 2005.

History[edit]

Union 76 station in Southern California, c. 1950s

The Union Oil Company of California (later known as Unocal) introduced the Union 76 brand to their existing Union Oil service stations in 1932.[3] After expanding along the West Coast, the Union 76 brand expanded to the Midwest and Southeast through the acquisition of Pure Oil Company in 1965.[4]

In 1989, Unocal began to gradually exit the Midwest and Eastern markets by forming a joint venture with Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), called Uno-Ven, in which Unocal contributed its Midwest refining and marketing assets.[5] Unocal sold its interest in Uno-Ven to PDVSA in 1997 and PDVSA rebranded the Midwestern and Eastern Union 76 stations to its Citgo brand.[6]

In 1997, Unocal also sold its remaining refining and marketing operations in the western United States and the rights to the Union 76 brand for use in refining and marketing operations to Tosco Corporation.[7] Four years later, Phillips Petroleum Company purchased Tosco along with the 76 brand in 2001.[8] Phillips merged with Conoco the following year to form ConocoPhillips.[9]

In 2012, ConocoPhillips divested its refining and marketing business, which included the 76 brand, through the formation of the Phillips 66 Company.[9]

In 2016, Saudi Aramco-owned Motiva Enterprises signed a deal with Phillips 66 Company which would allow Motiva to use the 76 brand on some of its stations in its 26 eastern and Gulf Coast states operating territory.[10] By 2017, the 76 brand was reintroduced into New York, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee and New Jersey.[11]

Marketing[edit]

76, Conoco, and Phillips 66 market their brand of gasoline under the brand name PROclean. The previous brand name for their gasoline was Propower.[citation needed] 76 gasoline stopped being marketed under the Propower name after the termination of the commercial relationship between NASCAR and 76 after the end of the 2003 season, when the firm discontinued all motorsport fuels.[citation needed] As of October 2004, PROclean brand fuel was included on the list of fuels recognized as "Top Tier".[12]

In the 1970s and 1980s, the company used the slogan "Go With the Spirit...the Spirit of '76." This was later shortened to "Get the Spirit".[citation needed]. Their current (as of late 2021) slogan is “We’re on the driver’s side”.

The orange ball[edit]

Close image of the 76 ball, photographed in 2007

Union Oil (for many years based in El Segundo, California) introduced "76" gasoline in 1932. The name referred to the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, and was also the octane rating of the gasoline in 1932.[13]

76 signs are orange balls with "76" written on them in blue. Many stations had the 76 ball rotate when the signs were illuminated. The first such sign was designed in 1962 by advertising creative director Ray Pedersen for the Seattle World's Fair.

The newer sign design (2005)

In 2005, new corporate owners ConocoPhillips began a rebranding campaign to unify the design elements of each of the merged brands (76, Phillips, and Conoco). As a part of this re-branding, there was an initial decision to pull down all the Orange Ball signs and replace them with monument-style signs in the red-orange and blue color scheme. In response to overwhelming negative publicity generated by a grassroots "Save The 76 Ball" campaign, ConocoPhillips backtracked on this decision in January 2007, agreeing to donate several of the classic orange 76 balls to museums and to erect approximately 100 balls in the new red-orange and blue color scheme.

The 76 ball is a popular logo in the "Cult Style" of European car tuning (especially on VW Golf Mk 1 GTIs, due to the debut year of 1976), and it is used on clothing items in Japan as of 2005.

The 76 ball made a brief appearance in the 1991 film Point Break during the final airport escape scene, in 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park during the Tyrannosaurus rex and the car chase in San Diego, California, and close to the dam in 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It made an appearance in the 1998 movie Lethal Weapon 4, in which a gas station was blown up due to characters Riggs and Murtaugh shooting an armed man with a flamethrower into a tanker truck on the lot. It also made an appearance in Sid and Marty Krofft's 2009 Land of the Lost movie and in the intro in the 1980 film Smokey and the Bandit II.

Until the end of 2003, 76 balls were located at the Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway in all four of its turns. They were used as scoring points, had portholes, and were capable of holding a few people inside. One of these balls was given to the owner of Brumos Motor Cars in Jacksonville, FL, and now sits atop a building on the premises after ConocoPhillips terminated its NASCAR sponsorship. Another was given to Dale Earnhardt Jr. that is currently displayed on his property. Similar balls had been placed near pit entrances at most NASCAR circuits until the sponsorship ended, but unlike spheres, they were flat on both sides and illuminated at night during races.

The 76 ball is also a landmark at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where the only gas station on the premises of a major league ballpark is visible from the park beyond the outfield stands. 76 ball logos also adorn the baseball field’s on-deck circles. Union Oil was a longtime sponsor of the Dodgers baseball team, beginning with their relocation to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958. The sponsorship by the 76 brand continues to this day.

Union 76 invented the antenna topper concept.[citation needed] Beginning in 1967, Union 76 distributed tens of millions of orange 76 styrofoam antenna balls. These were popular, especially in the Greater Los Angeles area, where they are still seen. In the winter of 1968, they also proved to be safety aids in northwestern US cities such as Spokane, Washington, when wind and snow created drifts that made it difficult to locate cars without whip antennas and the ubiquitous orange 76 ball on them.[14]

In recent years, 76 has appeared in certain areas in the eastern United States, as part of a licensing deal with Motiva Enterprises (the Conoco brand has also appeared, while the Philips 66 brand has returned to the area for the first time since 1972).[15] Since 2013, they have returned to the orange ball imagery as part of the "Experience 76" program.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oller, Samantha (January 9, 2018). "Phillips 66 Launches New Ad Campaign". CSP Daily News.
  2. ^ "About Us". Phillips 66 Company. Archived from the original on 2015-06-09.
  3. ^ Hirsch, Jerry (April 5, 2005). "2 Firms Helped Fuel State's Growth". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Carmical, J.H. (February 1, 1965). "$800 MILLION BID SET FOR PURE OIL; Group Led by Loeb, Rhoades Submits an Offer in Cash for Assets of Concern DEBT PLAN IS INCLUDED Acquisition Move Remains Subject to Board Action -- Union Oil Deal Noted $800 MILLION BID SET FOR PURE OIL". New York Times.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (October 31, 1989). "Unocal, Venezuelan company set joint venture". United Press International.
  6. ^ "Unocal in refinery and petchem deal with PDVSA". Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections. April 11, 1997.
  7. ^ O'Dell, John & Kraul, Chris (November 19, 1996). "76 Products Co. Sold in $1.8-Billion Deal". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ "Phillips Petroleum Agrees to Buy Tosco". Los Angeles Times. February 5, 2001.
  9. ^ a b Sanders, Lisa (August 30, 2002). "Conoco-Phillips merger complete". MarketWatch.
  10. ^ "Phillips 66 Debuts Downstream". CSP Daily News. February 5, 2016.
  11. ^ "Motiva Grows With Largest 76 Station in Texas". Convenience Store News. September 29, 2017.
  12. ^ "Top Tie Detergent Gasoline Retailers". Top Tier. Archived from the original on 2013-08-15.
  13. ^ Sign of the 76, Los Angeles: Union Oil, 1976, p.203.
  14. ^ https://www.facebook.com/KGWTV8/posts/321105171267784
  15. ^ "Motiva, Phillips 66 Sign 76 Brand Deal". CSP Daily News. February 5, 2016. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  16. ^ Lofstock, John (September 29, 2014). "Phillips 66 Continues to Drive Retail Innovation". CStore Decisions.

External links[edit]