Back when gas stations were more than just convenience stores, the owners of America’s most popular garage and fuel chains used the television to tell drivers why their products and services were better than the competition’s. If you’re old enough to remember when oil came in a can, then you’ll enjoy some of these great old gas station commercials now preserved on YouTube.
Standard Is Something Else
Standard Oil opened its first gas service station in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1912. Later merging with Amoco and credited with inventing the modern drive-through service station, Standard made friendly service a priority as illustrated in this 1968 classic slot starring Mike Farrell, better known as B.J. Hunnicutt in the 70s-era television series M.A.S.H.
A Smile for Every Mile
On May 15, 1911, the Supreme Court declared the Standard Oil group to be an unreasonable monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act. It ordered Standard to break up into 34 independent companies, each with a different board of directors. In states where Standard Oil maintained its rights, the company followed the common advertising formula—using merry jingles and down home sappiness as seen in this 1930s-era cinematic commercial—to market its brand under the crafty phonetic pronunciation “S” and “O.”
The Spirit of 76
76, now known only as 76, was originally Union Oil Company of California, otherwise known as Unocal. In the 1970s and 1980s, the company used the slogan “Go With the Spirit…the Spirit of 76.” This television commercial may be one of the first that saw the “spirit” theme used in an advertising campaign.
The Car Man
Cities Service Company first initiated use of the CITGO brand in 1965. Tracing the brand’s corporate roots back the early 1900s, CITGO is today a United States-incorporated, Venezuela-owned refiner somewhat controversial with many Americans. But before that CITGO was just another friendly, neighborhood chain of service stations where knowledgeable mechanics would happily attend to all your car repair and maintenance needs.
Keeping Your Car on the Go
The Atlantic Richfield Company (today known as ARCO) traces its roots back to 1886 and was one of the companies that gained independence after the 1911 breakup of Standard Oil. Atlantic’s emphasis was on “quality products and friendly service,” and its service stations were popular stops for drivers, thanks to commercials like this one from 1958.