RPA Repositions Arco Brand

After a yearlong hiatus, Arco returns to the airwaves this week with a new campaign from Rubin Postaer & Associates.

The move signals an apparent commitment from Arco’s parent company BP, which acquired the service-station chain last year.

“After BP bought Arco, they evaluated the product, the fu ture of the brand and how much support they wanted to give it,” said Tom Kirk, group account director at RPA in Santa Monica, Calif. “This is a good sign of support for the future of the Arco brand.”

Ads shun Arco’s previous tag, “No better gas, no better deal,” since most customers recognize Arco as a “value brand,” said Kris Kaligian, manager of advertising and sales promotion for the Los Angeles-based client.

“We’ve refreshed the brand positioning and taken a look at how to leverage its strengths and value position in marketing,” Kaligian said. The company also wanted to create an “emotional connection” with consumers by employing the same ir reverent hu mor used by another BP brand and RPA client, the convenience-store chain am/pm.

The new campaign aims to position Arco, whose prices are often 6-7 cents per gallon below the competition, as the unconventional, smart gas decision. Introducing the tag “Fill smart,” it includes three 30-second TV spots, as well as outdoor and radio ads rolling out in January.

The budget for the effort was undisclosed; sources estimate spending at $5-10 million.

Spots feature consumers passing on the competition’s gas, even when they have a vested interest in using it. In one ad, for instance, an em ployee at a competing station uses binoculars to peer out the window at a co-worker’s wife, who is filling up at the Arco station. In another execution, two guys ask an Arco competitor to assist them in pushing their car, which has run out of gas, into the Arco station.

“Arco customers will drive past the competition to go to an Arco station,” said Kirk, adding that the spots are meant to celebrate the brand’s customers.

Media buying for the campaign was handled by MindShare in Los Angeles. Commercials are airing on spot TV and local cable.

Arco owns 1,700 stations in five Western states, with the majority in Southern California. RPA, best known for its American Honda work, has been the agency for Arco and am/pm since 1995.