United Refining's Patriotic Pitch

Refiner-marketer expanding distribution of TV ads touting "local" crude

WARREN, Pa. -- United Refining Co. has started running patriotic TV ads in western Pennsylvania touting that all of its crude oil comes from North America and is refined into gasoline, diesel and other products in its home base of Warren, Pa., said The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Through its 370 Kwik Fill/Red Apple and Country Fair locations in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and western New York, the 105-year-old company sells more than 400 million gallons of product annually, the report said.

"We just recently began running the commercial in the Pittsburgh area. We started out [image-nocss] in the Rochester, N.Y., area [in 2006], and we've found them to be very effective," Ashton Ditka, United Refining's senior vice president of marketing and older brother of famed football coach Mike Ditka, told the newspaper.

"We feel the commercials have had a positive effect on sales, and we've gotten a lot of positive phone calls from customers," Peter Conley, vice president and retail manager for United Refining's Kwik Fill/Red Apple retail operation, told the paper.

"We're hoping to build on the American theme going forward," Conley added.

The company also has the tagline "100% North American Crude Oil. American Made Gasoline Driving America!" on its website.

For the three months ending November 30, privately held United Refining had profits totaling $13.4 million on sales of $693.6 million. That compares to a net loss of $3.2 million on sales of $584.6 million a year earlier, according to the report.

The "buy American" commercial features six men and women telling the camera United Refining's 100% North American crude story, and that by buying United Refining products at Kwik Fill stations, consumers keep jobs and businesses in America, and keep American families strong.

Mark Foggetti, president of United Refining's advertising agency, Great Atlantic Pictures Inc., Rochester, N.Y., said petroleum executives needed to play up the all North American crude oil aspect of the business.

Click hereto view the commercials ("Americana" and "Young Americana").