Bloggers Bawling Over Loss of 76 Ball

Petition calls for return of iconic brand symbol

LOS ANGELES -- A grassroots campaign started via a blog is calling on ConocoPhillips, which took over Unocal refineries and gas stations in California in 2002, to bring back the traditional orange and blue 76-branded ball signs that it began taking down in 2005 in favor of the flattened red and blue disk.

The bloggers have started a petitionat www.savethe76ball.comdeclaring their intention to boycott ConocoPhillips if it does not reverse its redesign policy and show proper respect for the beloved 76 [image-nocss] ball brand.

Petition co-writer Nathan Marsak said, Our urban fabric will lose a groovy, sexy element of its attraction with the disappearance of this turning orban orb that still speaks progress and fun as opposed to its replacement, which resembles some sort of giant tombstone.

The 76 Ball is one of the 20th Century's most successful and enduring design icons, he said. It has its origins in 1932's Spirit of 76 advertising campaign promoting Union Oil's 76 octane fuel. The orange globe first appeared in 1947, with the familiar version of the design launched in 1967. That was the year Unocal launched its car antenna ball promotion, distributing 2.5 million of the miniature 76 balls in 1993 alone, and creating an antenna-top marketing revolution.

Petition co-writer Kim Cooper added, If ConocoPhillips' intention was to lose any goodwill their customers feel towards the 76 brand, they're off to a great start. In 2004 they withdrew fuel sponsorship of NASCARkilling off the longest such relationship in the history of the organizationand in late 2005, began chopping down the big orange pumpkin balls that cheer our urban landscape. Since my local station had its orange ball removed, I've started filling my tank elsewhere, and from our petition it sounds like many others are doing the same.

ConocoPhillips did not respond to a CSP Daily News inquiry by presstime.