Esso /ˈɛs/ is a trading name for ExxonMobil and its related companies. The company began as Standard Oil of New Jersey following the breakup of Standard Oil.[1] In 1972, the name was largely replaced in the U.S. by the Exxon brand after the company bought Humble Oil, while the Esso name remained widely used elsewhere.

Industrypetroleum industry Edit this on Wikidata
Founded1912; 108 years ago (1912)
HeadquartersIrving, Texas, U.S.
Key people
Evelyn Victor Yoganathan, Nicholas Alexander Wallace Ross
ProductsOil, Fuel

In most of the world, the Esso brand and the Mobil brand are the primary brand names of ExxonMobil, with the Exxon brand name in use only in the United States alongside Mobil.

An Esso station in Stabekk, Norway (2006)
A combination Exxon gasoline and Esso diesel pump at an Exxon station in Zelienople, Pennsylvania (2008)
The Esso sign in 1940, used in the United States until 1966


In 1911, Standard Oil was broken up into 34 companies, some of which were named Standard Oil and had the rights to that brand in certain states (the other companies had no territorial rights). The name Esso is the phonetic pronunciation of the initials 'S' and 'O' in the name Standard Oil.[2] Standard Oil Company (New Jersey; Jersey Standard) had the rights in that state, plus in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia. By 1941, it had also acquired the rights in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

It also used the Esso brand in New York and the six New England states, where the Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony-Vacuum, later Socony Mobil) had the rights, but did not object to the New Jersey company's use of the trademark[citation needed] (the two companies did not merge until November 1999). However, in the other states, the other Standard Oil companies objected and, via a 1937, U.S. federal court injunction, forced Jersey Standard to use other brand names.[3] In most states the company used the Enco ("Energy Company") brand name, and in a few, the Humble brand name.

The other Standard companies likewise were "Standard" or some variant on that name in their home states, and another brand name in other states. Esso ranked 31st among American corporations in the value of World War II production contracts.[4]

During the years of racial segregation in the United States, some Esso franchises gave out The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide.[5]

In 1973, Standard Oil of New Jersey renamed itself Exxon Corporation, and adopted the Exxon brand name throughout the country. It maintained the trademark rights to the Standard and Esso brands in the states where it held those rights by selling Esso Diesel in those states at stations that sell diesel fuel, thus preventing the trademark from being declared abandoned.

ESSO gas station in Lares, Puerto Rico, 1942

It retained the Esso brand in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands until 2008, when it sold its stations there to Total S.A.[6]

The Enco brand name was used on locations in the Midwest until 1977, when they were sold to Cheker Oil Co. (now part of Marathon Petroleum subsidiary Speedway LLC[7]); Exxon continues to have a presence in southern Ohio today (as it does throughout much of Appalachia in general), though Mobil is the company's primary brand in the Midwest.

In February 2016, ExxonMobil successfully asked a U.S. federal court to lift the 1930s, trademark injunction that banned it from using the Esso brand in some states. By this time, as a result of numerous mergers and rebranding, the remaining Standard Oil companies that had objected to the Esso name had been acquired by BP.

ExxonMobil cited trademark surveys in which there was no longer possible confusion with the Esso name as it was more than seven decades before. BP also had no objection to lift the ban.[3]

ExxonMobil did not specify whether they would now open new stations in the U.S. under the Esso name; they were primarily concerned about the additional expenses of having separate marketing, letterheads, packaging, and other materials that omit Esso.[8]

United KingdomEdit

An Esso service station in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England (2010)

In 1888, the Anglo American Oil Company opened its head office in London, which eventually became a part of Esso.[9] In August 1998, Tesco announced a partnership with Esso, opening chains of Tesco Express stores located within forecourts, which continues today.[10] In February 2000, the two companies were opening one new store a month, creating 4,000 jobs.[11]

In Tampere, Finland (2007)

Esso BlueEdit

Esso Blue was the brand name of Esso's paraffin oil (kerosene) for domestic heaters in countries such as the United Kingdom. Their television advertising song from the 1950s, through to the 1970s, was the famous "Bom, Bom, Bom, Bom, Esso Blue!"

One campaign used the well-known song tune of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" reworded as:[12] "They asked me how I knew, it was Esso Blue, I of course replied, with lower grades one buys, smoke gets in your eyes. The non-smoking paraffin". The track was released as a flexi disk which was given away free in hardware stores.[13]


In the 1930s, Esso acquired Cleveland, an independent company based in North East England. Its founder and principal shareholder, Norman Davis, had spent some of World War I with his brother Manuel in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland's products included a benzole blend and an alcohol blend called "Discol". The Esso and Cleveland names continued in use until 1973, when the Cleveland filling stations were re-branded as Esso.

Northern IrelandEdit

Esso traded in Northern Ireland up until the early 2000s. Their forecourts were re-branded as Maxol and some remained private.

Euro GaragesEdit

45 of Euro Garages' forecourts were bought from Esso in 2013, and are operated under the Esso brand. They plan to roll out partner brands such as Starbucks and Spar, replacing the Esso branded shops.

Shop and DriveEdit

Shop and Drive is an Esso branded convenience store operated in some stations, although many of their locations have franchised shops such as Nisa.



An Esso gas bar in Carleton-sur-Mer, Quebec.
An Esso location in Ottawa with an On The Run convenience store and Tim Hortons café.

In Canada, the Esso brand is used on stations supplied by Imperial Oil, which is 69.8% owned by ExxonMobil. The stations are owned by third-party retailers such as Couche-Tard (mostly Ontario and Quebec, with stores primarily operating under the Circle K, Couche-Tard and Mac's brands), 7-Eleven (mostly Alberta and British Columbia), Parkland Fuel, Harnois Groupe pétrolier, Husky Energy,[14][15] and Wilson Fuel. Imperial Oil began to sell the majority of its company-owned stations in 2016.[16]

Esso also provides aviation fuel services at 80 airport locations in Canada (Aviation and Avitat).


In Australia, Esso is an affiliate of ExxonMobil, it operates oil and gas production. Its retail petrol stations were acquired by Mobil Australia in 1990.


Esso S.A.F. is the French subsidiary of ExxonMobil, operating several hundred filling stations and two refineries in France.[17]


Esso has sold most of its assets in the Caribbean. In 2008 it sold its retail operations in Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands and Jamaica to Total S.A.. Those were converted to the Total brand. In 2014, Sol Petroleum purchased Esso operations in The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe and Martinique. Rights to continue to operate in those countries under the Esso name were included.


In Kyoto, Japan (2017)

Established as Esso Standard Oil (Japan) in 1962, with Standard Vacuum division in Japan. It became Esso Oil in 1982. After the Exxon and Mobil merger in 1999, the Japanese subsidiaries were reorganized as ExxonMobil Y.K. in 2002, later renamed to EMG Marketing in 2012, and acquired as a subsidiary by TonenGeneral Oil in the same year. In 2016, JX Holdings and the TonenGeneral Group merged into JXTG Holdings, leading to the dissolution and absorption of EMG Marketing into a subsidiary of the new company, JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, in 2017.[18] In 2019, the company began to phase out the Esso and Mobil brands in Japan, replacing it with JX's Eneos banner.[19]


Esso is ExxonMobil's primary gasoline brand worldwide except in Australia, Guam, Mexico, Nigeria, and New Zealand, where the Mobil brand is used exclusively. In Canada (since 2017), Colombia, Egypt, and formerly Malaysia (until 2013, when Petron acquired ExxonMobil's Malaysian operations)[20] and Japan (until 2019), both the Esso and Mobil brands are used. In Hong Kong and Singapore, Mobil brand is applied on Esso fuel tank after Mobil service stations began to merge with Esso since 2006.

Mobil is ExxonMobil's primary retail gasoline brand in California, Florida, New York, New England, the Great Lakes and the Midwest. Exxon is the primary brand in the rest of the United States, with the highest concentration of retail outlets located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states.

Advertising campaignsEdit

In the 1960s, campaigns featuring heavy spending in different mass media channels became more prominent. Esso spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a brand awareness campaign built around the simple and alliterative[21] theme Put a Tiger in Your Tank, which was invented by Emery Smith in 1959.[22][23] Psychologist Ernest Dichter[24] and DDB Worldwide copywriter Sandy Sulcer[25] learned that motorists desired both power and play while driving, and chose the tiger as an easy to remember symbol to communicate those feelings.

The North American and later European campaign featured extensive television and radio and magazine ads, including photos with tiger tails supposedly emerging from car gas tanks, in England there were faux tiger tails with pink ribbons to tie round underneath the cap of the petrol tank so as to look as if there was a tiger in the tank: these were often seen on the road in the 1960s; at one time in England there was a television advertisement where a sombre man labelled as the advertising manager said that they were no longer going to have the tiger, followed a short while later with advertisements for the save the tiger campaign, promotional events featuring real tigers, billboards, and in Europe station pump hoses "wrapped in tiger stripes" as well as pop music songs.[23] Tiger imagery can still be seen on the pumps of successor firm ExxonMobil.

Commercial automotive and motorcycle partnershipsEdit

Esso, along with its sister brands Exxon and Mobil, are official long-term recommended gasoline of two Volkswagen Group marques (mainly Bentley and Porsche), all Toyota Group marques and subsidiaries (including Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu, Hino, and Perodua, shared with Petronas and Petron), General Motors marques and subsidiaries (including Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, Holden, and former GM marques such as Opel and Vauxhall), Mercedes-Benz (shared with Petron, Petronas and Sinopec) and Honda (including Acura, shared with BP, Total and its subsidiary, Elf Aquitaine) for automobiles. In addition, they are also recommended fuels for Honda motorcycles.


Formula One team Lotus had Esso sponsorship from 1962 until 1967 while sponsoring Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One world champion Jim Clark as well as Brabham from 1964 until 1973. From 2002 to 2009, Esso iconically sponsored Toyota F1, as well as Jordan and its successor, Midland in 2005 and 2006, after Esso became ExxonMobil's global primary fuel brand through the merger of Exxon with Mobil in 1999. Williams F1 had one season Esso sponsorship in 2009 when Petrobras left F1 in 2008 before made a return in 2014. The Esso brand was used in McLaren Formula One cars along with Mobil from 2014, as well as Exxon from 2015 in United States Grand Prix only, as they are currently ExxonMobil brands after the merger. In 2017, ExxonMobil switched to Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso (currently known as Scuderia AlphaTauri which shared with Petronas and Repsol fuels and lubricants from 2018).

Enco, as sister brand of Esso before both renamed as Exxon in 1973, had sponsored three Indianapolis 500 winning cars in 1965, 1967 and 1968, won by Jim Clark, A. J. Foyt and Bobby Unser, powered by Ford for 1965 and 1967 seasons, and Offenhauser for 1968 season.

Esso is also active in 24 Hours of Le Mans and various endurance racing, sponsoring Martini Lancia from 1982-86, Le Mans-winning Peugeot 905 from 1990–93, and iconically Toyota GT-One in 1998–99. Esso is also a partner of Porsche 911 RSR from 2013, and Le Mans-winning Porsche LMP Team from 2014 to 2017, as well as Le-Mans winning Toyota Gazoo Racing from 2015 (currently shared with Shell from 2016, and Total from 2012–14, and 2018). Esso is also a racing fuel supplier for Corvette Racing (for FIA World Endurance Championship, shared with VP Racing Fuels for non-WEC races). Since 1996 Esso currently supplying fuels for all Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup entrants under Mobil brand as ExxonMobil increased its fuel partnership role with Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup as Esso brand since 2015 season.


  1. ^ Falola, Toyin (September 30, 2005). The Politics of the Global Oil Industry: An Introduction. Westport, CT: Praeger. p. 27. ISBN 978-0275984007.
  2. ^ "Our History | Esso and Mobil".
  3. ^ a b "The Return of Esso Gasoline?". CSP Daily News. February 16, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  5. ^ McGee, Celia (August 22, 2010). "The Open Road Wasn't Quite Open to All". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2011. Although Victor Green’s initial edition only encompassed metropolitan New York, the Green Book soon expanded.... The 15,000 copies Green eventually printed each year were sold as a marketing tool not just to black-owned businesses but to the white marketplace, implying that it made good economic sense to take advantage of the growing affluence and mobility of African Americans. Esso stations, unusual in franchising to African Americans, were a popular place to pick one up.
  6. ^ Lett, Christine (March 11, 2008). "Total Petroleum to take over Esso's fuel business in V.I." The Virgin Islands Daily News. Archived from the original on March 13, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 17, 2011. Retrieved November 29, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "After 78 Years, Exxon Asks Court To Use 'Esso' Name Again". CSP Daily News. December 21, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  9. ^ "Our early days in Europe". About us. Exxon Mobil Corporation. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  10. ^ "Esso fuels Tesco's expansion". August 21, 1998. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  11. ^ "Tesco link with Esso to create 4,000 jobs". February 5, 2000. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  12. ^ the great blue singer — Esso Blue flexi disk recording, Juzp, archived from the original on February 21, 2013
  13. ^ "The Great Blue Singer " at Discogs
  14. ^ Menzies, James (October 6, 2015). "Husky Energy, Imperial Oil to combine truck fuel networks". Truck News. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  15. ^ "Conversion of Trans Canada Husky station to give city two highway ESSOs". Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  16. ^ The Globe and Mail, "Imperial Oil sells Esso gas stations for $2.8-billion", March 8, 2016
  17. ^ "ESSO" (in French). Euronext. November 21, 2019. Societe: Company Profile. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  18. ^ "TonenGeneral Group - Corporate History - JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation".
  19. ^ "Gas station merger will end Esso and Mobil's long run in Japan". Nikkei Asian Review. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  20. ^ "Petron completes purchase of Exxon Mobil units in Malaysia". Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  21. ^ William Safire (February 6, 2005). "ON LANGUAGE: Metaphor Madness". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2011. The foolish fearsomeness of this act was vitiated in the 1960s by Esso, which took a smiling tiger as a symbol with the alliterative slogan Put a tiger in your tank.
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b "Western Europe: The Tiger Goes Abroad". Time. May 28, 1965. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Put a tiger in your tank." The star of one of the most popular advertising campaigns ever hatched on Madison Avenue, Esso's frisky, whimsical tiger with the high-octane tail has become a roaring success all over Europe.
  24. ^ Lynne ames (August 2, 1998). "The View From/Peekskill; Tending the Flame of a Motivator". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2011. Among his most famous successes was the slogan Put a tiger in your tank, still in use by Exxon.
  25. ^ David Kaplan (January 23, 2004). "Sulcer, 77, Former DDB Needham Exec, Dies". adweek. Retrieved January 20, 2014. Frederick D. "Sandy" Sulcer... He created the well-known "Put a tiger in your tank" theme line for Esso (now ExxonMobil)

External linksEdit