Big Oil

This is a book review of Mark L. Robinson, Marketing Big Oil: Brand Lessons from the World’s Largest Companies, 2014. Palgrave Pilot, 153 pages.

Book review? Yes. Actually, I have done quite a few, mostly dealing with competitive intelligence and related subjects. And this one does deal with CI, among many other topics.

Some background: I have known Mark for many years, dating back to when he worked for (shudder) Big Oil, and then Deloitte. His knowledge of this industry is almost encyclopedic, and this book demonstrates that very well.

He focuses on marketing successes and failures (mostly failures) by Big Oil, and puts that in focus with a very readable and interesting history of Big Oil. Throughout the book, he notes where Big Oil has used both CI and industrial espionage to advance its operations. Interestingly, Mark observes that John D. Rockefeller, Sr. instituted the first business use of CI at Standard Oil by using the telegraph to send “actionable intelligence” to Standard Oil’s headquarters in NYC. (p. 23)

As far as I know, that makes the Standard Oil operations the earliest documented “CI” operation. Please post any earlier examples you know of.

More currently, he also briefly describes Mobil’s anticipation, before the energy shocks of the 1970s, of national and global energy shortages, as well as rising oil and gasoline price. How? Through its intelligence operations. (p. 91)

The book is very well researched, but also a great read, and a valuable tool not only for those in marketing, but also for those in crisis management, CI, and strategy. Get it.


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