The Drum gets behind the story of how the 100-year-old iconic Aussie brand Ampol has been reintroduced into the market after lying low for almost 30 years, and how it plans to connect with future generations of Aussies.

It is not often that a category as functional as fuel sees so much marketing action as is being witnessed by Ampol in the last few months. The legacy fuel brand is all set to complete its grand comeback on the Australian roads after being off grid for almost 30 years.

Caltex Petroleum Australia Ltd, the largest refiner-marketer in Australia, housed three brands – Ampol, Caltex and Golden Fleece – for many years until 2020, when it officially announced the change in its corporate entity to Ampol Limited. Now the sister brands Caltex and StarCard are getting phased out, with Ampol becoming the center of the action once again.

With this ambitious relaunch, the century-old brand wants to reclaim its status of being part of the fabric of Australian life, aided by its new positioning ‘born Australian, world class’. The brand has plans to get future-ready and relevant to both existing consumers and the emerging new generation of customers. As a part of the change, Ampol service stations are transitioning all over the country, with the national rollout having commenced in 2020 and continuing until the end of 2022. To mark the change, a mega-brand campaign ‘far and wide’ has been launched, conceptualized by creative partners Saatchi & Saatchi Australia and iProspect. Australia’s vastness and the integral part played by the vast distance in forging the country’s identity where people drive extraordinary distances to form the basis of the iconic Australian fuel brand Ampol’s revitalized version.

Now The Drum digs into the story behind the brand’s bold relaunch.

Bringing the legacy brand back after many years

Re-introducing a 100-year-old brand back into the market after a 30-year dormancy can be an uphill task. It has helped that Ampol has an iconic status, says Jenny O’Regan, chief brand officer at Ampol: “The infrastructure, credentials and abilities of Ampol have been in Australia for generations.” Bringing the brand back to the forefront of the fuel experience leverages its established roots and reaffirms our Australian credentials and expertise, she adds.

Working around one of the biggest rebrands in Australia

One of the key tasks laid out for the legacy brand is to reposition itself around the evolving needs of the new-age customers. O’Regan agrees: “Reawakening a much-loved and cherished Australian brand is an absolute honor, but we have a task ahead to engage a new population of consumers with the core promise of the Ampol brand.”

To make one of the biggest rebrands in recent history work is a daunting task logistically – for example, the rebranding of the service stations and assuring people of the brand consistency. O’Regan says: “We have been connecting with our customers with the assurance that they can expect the same service and product quality going forward.”

Keeping the look and feel familiar yet modern

The refreshed Ampol brand identity has been kept modern and forward-thinking, deploying the original red and blue bands and strong wordmark. The brand campaign, designed by Saatchi, is helping take the brand to the masses, connecting and reconnecting Australians to the Ampol brand and starting a conversation with the evolving customers, O’Regan adds.

Bringing the ‘fuel credentials’ and ‘Australian heritage’ on the road

The reinvigoration of this iconic Aussie brand has presented the opportunity for us to cement what we stand for as a business and as a brand and talk to the customer who loves to travel and explore and experience journeys in every shape and form, says O’Regan. The recently-launched brand campaign celebrates journeys big and small through the ‘far and wide’ creative platform, taking forward Ampol’s heritage while embodying the Australian way of life. Plans are to continue layering the campaign throughout the year, unveiling more about the promise of Ampol, she adds.

Finding the creative solution to the marketing problem

“Fuel is a tough category, especially since filling up your car, truck, boat and even lawnmower is a grudge purchase,” shares Mike Spirkovski, chief creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi Australia. And for that grudging consumer, finding an emotional, engaging and relevant idea was by far the most difficult part of cracking the brief.

He counts himself and the creative team lucky to have a client with the right amount of vision and ambition that helped to reposition the fuel brand’s creative journey. Spirkovski adds: “Marketers can get too caught up in the technicalities, science and very rational parts of the product, leaving little room for emotion.”

Problem: how to talk to a diverse audience. Solution: get a diverse creative team

A key challenge for the legacy brand was to navigate just the right amount of modern thought and nostalgia since the brand could not be seen as talking only to customers who remembered it from back in the day, nor could it talk only to the new set of young consumers either.

The creative agency opted to have a creative solution to the brand challenge: it got a diverse creative team from the agency to work on the brand. Spirkovski says: “We made sure we had young creatives in their early 20s as well as teams in their late 40s working on the brand.” This allowed for a broad spectrum of ideas, he adds.

Navigating the realities of a post-Covid world

Interestingly and not so surprisingly, one of the few successful categories during and post-Covid in the local market has been the automotive industry, according to Spirkovski. “When you’re locked in a nation as big as Australia and flying isn’t an option, the realities suddenly hit you,” he says, reflecting on the changing face of the travel industry in a post-pandemic world. Travelling ‘far and wide’ is what Australians have done forever, and it just might be the way forward for many if international travel restrictions continue – which may help the fuel brand find relevance once again.

Extracted in full from: How Australian fuel brand Ampol is set to travel ‘far and wide’ once again | The Drum