Conoco Sets Off on Agency Hunt

DALLAS-Conoco is looking for an agency to handle a corporate image assignment as the petroleum firm prepares for a split this year from parent Du Pont & Co.
Tom DeCola, corporate image and advertising manager, said the Houston firm was in the “early stages of a search,” and did not provide a timeline for a decision. “We’re not going to get into the parameters,” he said.
Shops in Texas and the Midwest are being contacted, said sources. Jones-Lundin Associates, Chicago, is assisting in the review, but declined to comment. A questionnaire issued to shops was due back last week.
DeCola declined to reveal the size of the account for the newly created concern. Observers speculated, however, that the $22 billion gas and oil giant could put as much as $20 million behind its efforts, although others doubted figures would reach that level. Conoco spends $10-15 million annually on advertising, mostly on retail-based promotions through Taylor Speier Group, Houston.
DeCola said it was too early to determine whether that account would be affected. Also on the Conoco roster is Black Rogers Sullivan Goodnight, in Houston, which handles the client’s $2-3 million lubricants account.
Conoco ranks sixth in the oil and gas category behind deep-pocketed rivals Shell, Exxon, Mobil, Chevron and Texaco. The latter spends $20-25 million annually on its corporate advertising. In 1998 Texaco recorded $30 billion in annual sales and a slightly higher net income than Conoco’s ($578 million, compared to $450 million).
DeCola said the image work will seek to help Conoco re-establish itself as a newly independent company when Du Pont sells its 70 percent share to its stockholders in the third quarter. Conoco went public with the other 30 percent last fall.
DeCola declined to discuss the scope of assignments. In its questionnaire, Conoco asked shops to furnish examples of radio, TV and print/collateral work.
-with Trevor Jensen