MARKETING: Exxon Victorious

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous.

—Voltaire

Changing the name of a well-known consumer product is one of marketing's most dangerous and delicate tasks. One major misstep can confuse consumers and cause sales to plunge. Nevertheless, Standard Oil Co. (New Jersey) decided last May to gather all its products, its subsidiaries and its corporate title under the single new name of Exxon, a less than lyrical word produced by a computer and meaning nothing at all. Now, after an exquisitely orchestrated campaign of advertising and sign changing, Exxon Corp. is well on its way to...

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