From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Exxon Corporation
TypePrivate (1911–1999)
  • Standard Oil of New Jersey (1911–1973)
  • Humble Oil (1911–1973)
FoundedJanuary 1, 1973; 49 years ago (1973-01-01)[1]
FateMerged with Mobil to form ExxonMobil in 1999; Exxon remains as a brand
Area served
  • Esso
  • Enco (1960–1972)
  • Humble (–1972)

Exxon Corporation, formerly known as the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (sometimes shortened to Jersey Standard) until 1973, was an American oil company and descendant of Standard Oil which merged with Mobil to form ExxonMobil in 1999.[1][2] Once one of the Seven Sisters that dominated the global petroleum industry, Exxon was one of the largest companies in the world, being one of the top five companies on Fortune 500 between the first edition of the list and the year of its merger with Mobil and reaching the #1 spot on the list a few years between 1970 and 1995.[3][4]

Today, Exxon is used as a brand name for some gas stations operated by the now-merged company, as well as for downstream operations selling motor fuel and related products (the highest concentration of which are located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states).



In 1959, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey secured full control of Humble Oil and restructured it into its U.S. marketing and refining division, to market nationwide under the Enco, Esso, and Humble brands. Enco was created as an acronym for the phrase "Energy Company". Humble introduced the Enco brand in 1960 in Oklahoma and surrounding states, to replace Humble's subsidiary Oklahoma and Pate brands. Humble also tried marketing under Enco in Ohio, but Standard Oil Company of Ohio (Sohio) protested that the Enco name and logo (a white oval with a blue border and red lettering) too closely resembled that of Esso. Consequently, stations in Ohio were rebranded as Humble and remained so until the Exxon brand came into use.

After the Enco brand was discontinued in Ohio, it was moved to other non-Esso states. In 1961, Humble stations in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas were rebranded to Enco. That same year, Enco appeared on former Carter stations in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.

In 1963, Humble Oil and Tidewater Oil Company began negotiating a sale of Tidewater's West Coast refining and marketing operations. The sale would have given Humble Oil many existing Flying A stations and distributorships, as well as a refinery in California, the nation's fastest-growing gasoline market. However, the Justice Department objected to the sale on anti-trust grounds. (In 1966, Phillips Petroleum Company bought Tidewater's western properties and rebranded all Flying A outlets to Phillips 66.)

Humble Oil continued to expand its West Coast operations, adding California to its marketing territory, building many new Enco stations, and rebranding others. In 1967, Humble Oil purchased all remaining Signal stations from Standard Oil Company of California (Chevron) and rebranded them as Enco outlets, greatly increasing Enco's presence in California. Finally, in 1969, Humble Oil opened a new refinery in Benicia, California.

In 1966, the U.S. Justice Department ordered Humble Oil to "cease and desist" from using the Esso brand at stations in several southeastern states, following protests from Standard Oil of Kentucky (Kyso), which was a Standard Oil of California subsidiary in the process of rebranding its Standard stations to Chevron. By 1967, Humble Oil's Esso stations in the Southeast were rebranded to Enco.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Humble Oil continued to have difficulties promoting itself as a nationwide marketer of petroleum products, despite a number of high-profile marketing strategies. These included the popular "Put a Tiger in Your Tank" advertising campaign and accompanying tiger mascot created by American illustrator Bob Jones,[5][6] to promote Enco Extra and Esso Extra gasolines. Humble Oil also used similar logotypes, use of the Humble name in all Enco and Esso advertising, and uniform designs for all stations regardless of brand. In addition, Humble Oil was a major promoter and broadcast sponsor for college football in the Pacific-8 (now Pac-12) and Southwestern conferences.

But Humble Oil still faced stiff competition from national brands such as Shell and Texaco, which at that time was the only company to market under one brand name in all 50 states. By the late 1960s, Humble officials realized that the time had come to develop a new brand name that could be used nationwide. At first, consideration was given to simply rebranding all stations as Enco, but that was shelved when it was learned that the word "Enco" is similar in pronunciation to the Japanese slang term enko, meaning "stalled car" (an abbreviation of enjin no kosho, "engine breakdown").[7]

Prior to its purchase by Standard Oil of New Jersey, Humble Oil had conducted a study titled "Radiocarbon Evidence on the Dilution of Atmospheric and Oceanic Carbon by Carbon from Fossil Fuels" in 1957.[8]

Exxon Corporation[edit]

Starting in 1973, Humble (left) and Enco gas stations were rebranded to Exxon

The company changed its corporate name from Standard Oil of New Jersey to "Exxon Corporation".[9] Once Exxon was officially constituted on January 1, 1973, the company replaced the Esso, Enco, and Humble brands in the United States. Exxon established as the new, unified brand name for all former Enco and Esso outlets. [1][10] The Esso name was a trademark of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and attracted protests from other Standard Oil spinoffs because of its phonetic similarity to the acronym of the name of the parent company, Standard Oil. As a result, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey was restricted from using Esso in the U.S., except in those states awarded to it in the 1911 Standard Oil antitrust settlement.[9]

The company initially planned to change its name to "Exon", in keeping with the four-letter format of Enco and Esso. However, during the planning process, it was noted that James Exon was the governor of Nebraska. Renaming the company after a sitting governor seemed ill-advised. George T. Piercy, a senior member of the board of directors suggested adding an X resulting in the new EXXON name.

In states where it was restricted from using the Esso name, the company marketed under the Humble or Enco brands. The Humble brand was used at Texas stations for decades, as those operations were under the direction of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey affiliate Humble Oil & Refining Company. In the middle to late 1950s, the use of the Humble brand spread to other southwestern states, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

The rebranding came after successful test-marketing of the Exxon name, under two experimental logos, in the fall and winter of 1971–1972. Along with the new name, Exxon settled on a rectangular logo using red lettering and blue trim on a white background, similar to the familiar color scheme on the old Enco and Esso logos.

A mass spectrometer in use at an Exxon Research and Engineering Company analytical research laboratory in Baytown, Texas in 1974

The unrestricted international use of the popular Esso brand prompted Exxon to continue using it outside the U.S. Esso is the only widely used Standard Oil descendant brand left in existence. Others, such as Chevron, maintain a few Standard-branded stations in specific states in order to retain their trademarks, and prevent others from using them.

On March 24, 1989, in what is regarded as one of the worst oil spills in American history,[11] a tanker owned by Exxon, the Exxon Valdez, crashed into Bligh Reef, spilling its cargo of over ten million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound in Alaska[12] and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of seabirds and sea mammals.[13] The ship was piloted by a captain with a history of drunk driving convictions,[14] and Exxon was ordered by a jury to pay punitive damages in the amount of $5 billion. This judgment was eventually reduced, after multiple appeals, to just $500 million by 2008.[15]

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in July 2020, Exxon announced deep spending and job position cuts in order to save an 8% shareholder dividend. According to Reifinitiv Eikon data, the company experienced a $2.63 billion loss and their shares were down by 35%.[16] Later, in October 2020, Exxon released a statement which expanded on the planned cuts, stating that 15 percent of the company's global workforce would be fired over the next two years, including layoffs of 1,900 U.S. jobs, reducing the total global workforce by 14,000 employees.[17] In February 2021, Exxon announced that in 2020 it registered a loss of $22.4 billion, adding that it was planning to invest $3 billion in the next four years. [18]

Exxon Office Systems[edit]

Under the guidance of its paid consultants at Boston Consulting Group, Exxon announced in the 1970s that it would compete against IBM and Xerox. The mantra was "Information Is the Oil of the 21st Century". It launched Exxon Office Systems, and the early 1980s, Exxon retailed its fax machines and software through Sears.[19] The venture failed since "the giant oil company failed to fully realize the subtleties of managing small high-tech companies."[20] Exxon announced the closure of the venture at the end of 1984.[21]

Recent years[edit]

An Exxon-branded gas station in Utah in 2017

In 1989, Exxon announced that it was moving its headquarters, including about 300 employees, from Manhattan, New York City to the Las Colinas area of Irving, Texas. Exxon sold the Exxon Building (1251 Avenue of the Americas), its former headquarters in Rockefeller Center, to a unit of Mitsui Real Estate Development Co. Ltd. in 1986 for $610 million. John Walsh, president of Exxon subsidiary Friendswood Development Company, stated that Exxon left New York because the costs were too high.[22] In 2009 Exxon partnered with Turner Ridge Capital Management to develop and finance their U.S. alternative energy infrastructure.[citation needed]

In 2016, ExxonMobil successfully asked a U.S. federal court to lift the aforementioned trademark injunction that banned it from using the Esso brand in various states. By this time, as a result of numerous mergers and rebranding, the remaining Standard Oil companies that previously objected to the Esso name had been acquired by BP. ExxonMobil cited trademark surveys in which there was no longer possible confusion with the Esso name as it was more than seven decades before. BP also had no objection to lifting the ban.[23] ExxonMobil did not specify whether they would now open new stations in the U.S. under the Esso name; they were primarily concerned about the additional expenses of having separate marketing, letterheads, packaging, and other materials that omit "Esso".[24]

Corporate image[edit]

First Exxon logo, launched in 1973. It contained the red and blue colors of the Esso, Enco and Humble brands

The rectangular Exxon logo, with the blue strip at the bottom and red lettering with the two 'X's interlinked together, was designed by noted industrial stylist Raymond Loewy.[25] The interlinked 'X's are incorporated in the modern-day ExxonMobil corporate logo; in mid-2016, as part of a corporate rebranding accompanying the launch of ExxonMobil's "Synergy" fuel products, the mixed-case Exxon wordmark from the ExxonMobil corporate logo became the brand's main logo.[26]

In 1985, Minolta introduced an autofocus SLR camera system named "Maxxum" in the United States. Originally, cameras (such as the Maxxum 7000) lenses and flashes used a logo with the X's crossed in 'MAXXUM'.[27] Exxon considered this a violation of their trademark, and as a result, Minolta was allowed to distribute cameras already produced, but was forced to change the stylistic 'XX' and implement this as a change in new production.[28] ExxonMobil similarly sued 21st Century Fox over its cable channel FXX, but the parties agreed to dismiss the suit in October 2015.[29]


Map of Exxon stores in the United States

Exxon is ExxonMobil's primary retail gasoline brand in most of the United States, with the highest concentration of retail outlets located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states. The Exxon brand also has a market presence in the following metropolitan areas:

  • Atlanta
  • New Orleans
  • Baltimore
  • New York City Metro (New Jersey)
  • Birmingham
  • Philadelphia
  • Charlotte
  • Pittsburgh
  • Dallas
  • Raleigh
  • Houston
  • Richmond
  • Memphis
  • Miami
  • Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News
  • Nashville
  • Washington, D.C.
  • St. Louis

Mobil is the company's primary retail gasoline brand in California, Florida, New York, New England, the Great Lakes, and the Midwest. Esso is ExxonMobil's primary gasoline brand worldwide except in Australia, Guam, Mexico, Nigeria, and New Zealand, where the Mobil brand is used exclusively. In Colombia, Canada, and Egypt, as well as formerly Japan and Malaysia, both the Esso and Mobil brands are used, in which the latter was rebranded as Petron in 2013, and ENEOS for the former in 2019, respectively. The Mobil brand is applied to each Esso fuel tanks in Hong Kong and Singapore.


  1. ^ a b c Smith, William D. (June 22, 1972). "Jersey Standard Takes Giant Step". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Exxon Corporation | American company". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  3. ^ "A Guide to the ExxonMobil Historical Collection, 1790-2004: Part 1". Briscoe Center for American History. The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  4. ^ "Fortune 500: 1998 Archive Full List 1-100". Fortune. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  5. ^ "The society mourns the loss of Robert Goodhue Jones". Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  6. ^ "ExxonMobil - Our History". Retrieved February 13, 2010.. 1959 as the year of the final slogan message is also mentioned by: Brian Ash, Tiger in Your Tank: The Anatomy of an Advertising Campaign (1969), p. 32.
  7. ^ "On with Exxon". Time. May 22, 1972. Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2008.
  8. ^ "New Evidence Reveals Fossil Fuel Industry Funded Cutting-Edge Climate Science Research Dating Back to 1950s | Union of Concerned Scientists".
  9. ^ a b Smith, William D. (October 25, 1972). "And Now the Esso Name Is History". The New York Times. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  10. ^ Brooks, John (March 3, 1973). "It Will Grow On You". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  11. ^ Fountain, Henry (December 9, 2013). "Lessons From the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 1, 2022. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  12. ^ Stevens, William K. (April 2, 1989). "Ideas & Trends; Oil Exacts A Price From The Earth". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  13. ^ "Exxon Valdez: The Spill, the Cleanup and the Charges". The New York Times. March 1, 1990. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  14. ^ Egan, Timothy (March 28, 1989). "Captain Has History of Drinking and Driving". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  15. ^ Liptak, Adam (June 26, 2008). "Damages Cut Against Exxon in Valdez Case". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  16. ^ Jennifer Hiller, Ron Bousso, Dmitry Zhdannikov (July 30, 2020). "Exxon prepares spending, job cuts in last ditch move to save dividend". Reuters. Retrieved August 8, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ "Exxon to cut global workforce by 15 percent, including 1,900 U.S. jobs". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  18. ^ "Exxon plunges to first loss in decades as pandemic chokes off demand". BBC News. February 2, 2021. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  19. ^ Pollack, Andrew (December 2, 1981). "Exxon Closes Plant and Lays Off 1,100 in Office Company". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2018. To beef up its marketing, Exxon is selling its electronic typewriters through Sears, Roebuck & Company's new business equipment stores.
  20. ^ Potts, Mark (November 28, 1984). "Exxon to Quit Office-Systems Business". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 14, 2018. Analysts repeatedly have rapped Exxon for its performance in office systems, saying that the giant oil company failed to fully realize the subtleties of managing small high-tech companies.
  21. ^ Jean-Louis Gassée (September 16, 2018). "The Exxon Delusion". Monday Note. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  22. ^ Pearson, Anne and Ralph Bivins. "Exxon moving corporate headquarters to Dallas". Houston Chronicle. Friday October 27, 1989. A1. Retrieved on July 29, 2009.
  23. ^ "The Return of Esso Gasoline?". CSP Daily News. February 16, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  24. ^ "After 78 Years, Exxon Asks Court to Use 'Esso' Name Again". CSP Daily News. December 21, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  25. ^ Savov, Vlad (November 5, 2013). "Raymond Loewy: the man who designed everything". The Verge. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  26. ^ "ExxonMobil Debuts Synergy Fuel, Imaging". CSP Daily News. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  27. ^ "Minolta Maxxum camera with original crossed 'XX' logo".
  28. ^ "Minolta Maxxum camera with modified double 'X' logo". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
  29. ^ "Fox, ExxonMobil Hit Brakes on "FXX" Trademark Dispute". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2018.

External links[edit]