A Tiger in Your Tank?Those of us with a bit of age on us well remember the Standard Oil commercials with the tiger urging us all to "put a tiger in our tank," meaning of course, that the gas sold by them was powerful, and similar to placing a huge beast in your gas tank. I remember even getting free fake tiger tails to place on the gas tank cap. Remember, gas tank caps were exposed then, and it became common to see cars with tiger tails flopping around the filler caps of their gas tanks. The Esso Tiger
Esso Tiger - Orange jungle cat with black stripes who represented Esso Oil
in the mid-1960s with his trademark catchphrase "Put a tiger in your tank"
(created by Chicago copywriter Emery Smith).
From a humble beginning in Norway to the recognition he enjoys
today, it's been a long journey for one of the world's most
famous tigers. Esso's identification with the big cat dates back
to the early part of the 20th century when leaping tiger emblems
appeared on Esso Norway roadside gasoline pumps.
The tiger's next stop was in England in 1930. An ad was placed in
a 1936 issue of the Daily Mail newspaper showing a tiger on the
prowl for Esso Ethyl Motor Oil. Although popular, this ad was
halted by the outbreak of World War Two when all branding and
advertising of petrol stopped. The oil companies produced only
"generic" petrol during the war.
In 1953, Exxon (now known as ExxonMobil) the American parent
company of Esso, launched an intensive campaign, resurrecting the
1930's tiger. The success of the ads persuaded several European
affiliates to follow during the 1950's. Following on from this,
in 1959, an advertising agency in Chicago was asked by Exxon to
create an advertisement to boost sales of its petrol. They came
up with the phrase "Put a tiger in your tank". This was to become
the cornerstone of one of Exxon's most successful advertising
In 1964, the cartoon tiger was introduced and with the slogan
"Put a tiger in your tank" proceeded to capture consumers' hearts
and imaginations. While the tiger was perceived as friendly and
loveable, he also conveyed an impression of power and strength,
which proved to be a winning combination. Sales soared.
The success of the ad campaign prompted Time magazine
to proclaim 1964 as "The Year of the Tiger along Madison Avenue.
The cartoon tiger's popularity was not limited to America . Within
a year he could be found throughout Europe, Australia and the Far
East . However, the 1970's Middle East oil embargo brought the
live tiger back. With the embargo, serious issues emerged more
suitably addressed by the live tiger. Advertising campaigns were
redesigned and it was decided that the time was right to bring
back the fearlessness and strength suggested by the live tiger.
Since the live tiger appeared on British television in 1975, it
has co-existed with the cartoon tiger in most of Exxon's
worldwide markets, promoting products and communication on a wide
variety of topics.
The Esso Tiger was retired in the late 1960s but resurrected in 1972
when Esso changed its name to Exxon. Their ad slogan stated,
We're changing our name, but not our stripes!
In 1982, Exxon featured the live tiger in the United States , and
recently he leapt into the computer age in television commercials
featuring a moving car that turns into a running tiger. Esso Esso is an international trade name for Exxon Mobil Corporation and its related companies. Pronounced S-O, it is derived from the name of the pre-1911 Standard Oil Company, and as such became the focus of much litigation and regulatory restriction in the United States . In 1973, it was largel...
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