kim's blog

76 Balls being destroyed in secret, artists needed to represent the horror!

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This is an open invitation to artists who love the 76 Ball.

As you may know, Texas oil giant ConocoPhillips has purchased Union 76, and has been quietly pulling down the beautiful orange and blue 76 Balls and replacing them with ugly flat signs in red and blue. The ball's original designer, Ray Pedersen, is behind our petition and boycott campaign to Save The 76 Ball, as are nearly 1000 petition signers. Our campaign has received coverage on the BBC, LA Business Journal, Brandweek, OC Weekly and KIRO radio Seattle.

ConocoPhillips refuses to talk with the media about this issue, so you can bet they won't respond when we ask them to confirm or deny the rumors that the removed 76 Balls are being SMASHED INTO TINY PIECES. Since they are so secretive, I feel it's up to the artists of the world to show what's happening through the magic of pen, ink, Photoshop, etc. This is your chance to show what the powers that be don't want us to see--just like Goya, Gericault and Picasso!

If you'd care to contribute an image to the campaign, I would love to share it with the world on our website, along with a bio and link to your website. We got 51,000 hits over the past month, and I'm continuing to alert the media, so this could be a cool way to show your work off to gearheads and design fiends.

Please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested. Any help or suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

best regards,
Kim Cooper
Editrix, Scram Magazine
and chief troublemaker, Save The 76 Ball

L.A. Business Journal article on the 76 Ball Petition

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Having a Ball
Bloggers launch campaign to save 76 insignia
Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

The ball is back in ConocoPhillips’ court.

Two Los Angeles bloggers with a fondness for vintage California signs have launched a Web campaign to save the rotating orange and blue Union 76 balls that were for decades that oil company’s identifying symbol.

The orange globes, often referred to as “meatballs,” have turned into Southern California pop culture icons largely because of their longevity – they’ve been around for 59 years.

Since ConocoPhillips bounced the balls from its ad campaign last year, they have started disappearing from West Coast highways and corner gas stations. At their peak in the 1960s, the 76 balls could be found on as many as 4,000 Union 76 gas stations from Seattle to San Diego. By some counts, the number of balls has dwindled to less than 300.

When Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak realized that their local gas station had carted off its giant 76 ball, they created a Web site – – featuring a tongue-in-cheek petition asking consumers to urge the Texas oil giant to stop dropping the ball.

On the site, the bloggers claim ConocoPhillips is guilty of “design terrorism” for throwing out the “goodwill” associated with the 76 balls. Visitors can sign the petition and print a card urging remaining gas station owners to keep their balls.

A spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips refused to comment.

After Cooper launched the Web site last month, she was contacted by Ray Pedersen, who redesigned the orange logo in 1955 for Union Oil. Pedersen, who is well known in the advertising industry, also designed Yoplait’s distinctive yogurt containers.

He conceived the orange ball as a futuristic globe that was to adorn a Union Oil ride at the Seattle World’s Fair. With that as the inspiration, he designed a “Spirit of 76” ad campaign.

In 1967, when the company had become Unocal Corp., it launched a wildly popular promotion in which millions of small plastic balls were distributed at its gas stations to be attached to cars’ radio antennae. Today, a classic 76 antenna ball can be purchased on eBay for roughly $1.50.

“The 76 balls are very urban and visually stunning,” said Cooper, who with Marsak writes for 1947project.blogspot, a day-by-day account of Los Angeles crime history from the era of the Black Dahlia. Marsak is author of “Los Angeles Neon,” and has developed an interest in vintage signs.

“Gasoline is one of the hardest things to create a brand for because it’s all identical,” said Cooper. “Yet here is one of the most visible images in the market and they’re just throwing the balls away.”

What Are They Doing With The Balls?

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Everyone wants to know what's happening with the 76 Balls that are removed from their poles. Are they stored in a big warehouse? Turned into birdhouses or novelty boats?

Well, based on clues we're getting from petroliana enthusiasts and sign historians, the answer is much more chilling. The balls are almost certainly being shattered, because there is no further use seen for them. One source even suggests that ConocoPhillips is requiring station owners to document the 76 Ball's destruction with photographs.

Why won't anyone at ConocoPhillips discuss this matter with the mainstream press reporters who are calling them? Are they afraid that when we find out what's really happening to our beloved 76 Ball, they won't be able to contain our rage?

They should be.  

Full-sized Spinning 76 Ball on eBay!

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If you've been wondering, like we have, what's become of the 76 Balls that are being pulled down from their poles, here's where one of them is: being auctioned on eBay! The seller says it was removed from a Bakersfield race track two years ago. And of course if you win, you have to pick it up. 

The Save the 76 Ball made some new friends in the media yesterday. Check out the podcast of petition writers Nathan and Kim in the last ten minutes of the BBC's Up All Night Blog show, the Daily Telegraph article, and the piece in the deliciously-named Convenience Store/Petroleum Daily News.

We're closing in on 900 signatures on the petition. Will it hit 1000 by the weekend?

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