Monday, December 2, 2013

In honor of CyberMonday, BP=?

My sister Kay appears to be the font of all things unique where Beatrix Potter is concerned.  Last week she showed up with a copy of The Tale of Jeremy Fisher dated 1990 with a most unusual back cover.

Yes, readers, this BP equals Beatrix Potter and British Petroleum.  A brief web search yielded a photograph of the entire set, and in case you are in the market, let me give you the link to the seller's page: BP Box Set on ebay

The design features of the packaging are intriguing.  The truck looks less like a gasoline (petrol) tanker and more like a bookmobile.  I am puzzled by the ethnicity of the driver who, if I may be so bold, does not appear to be Anglo-Saxon in ancestry. He is driving on the grass rather than on the road, which will surely infuriate Mr. McGregor.  I'm trying to imagine the discussion at the table when art director presented this design. What messages was British Petroleum (or its ad agency) trying to send?

Reading various posts about this collection, there is expressed outrage about oil-covered Jemimas in connection with this and the 2010 Gulf of Mexico accident.   To be fair, that was two decades after this promotion was launched. Unless British Petroleum had a crystal ball, it is hard to blame them for finding the parallel of their initials and Miss Potter's irresistible.

BP was not alone in appealing to children to market its fossil fuel.  I grew up on dinosaurs, and fondly remember Sinclair Dinoland at the 1964 New York World's Fair.  Here's another ebay item, sadly already sold:

This sign sports Dino, the Flintstones' pet brontosaurus (yes, I know they've been renamed Apatosaurus, sigh), happily pumping gas and reminding us (especially our Mom) not to forget the S&H Green Stamps.

And if you think this sort of thing was is entirely retro, think again.  For cyber-Monday, you can buy the 2013 Hess truck to drive under a Christmas tree near you.  Buy your Hess Toy Truck here.


  1. Oh I do remember my Mom collecting those stamps and heading to the store to see what treasure she could turn them in for. Remember her waiting to shop on bonus stamp day. Thank you for those lovely memories!!

  2. I also remember pasting all those stamps into the books. The products at the S&H stores were good quality, as I recall, but you certainly had to work for them!