Save the 76 Ball on KFI LA and WLW Cincinnati today


Nathan and I were just interviewed by Gary Burbank of 50,000 watt monster station WLW Cincinnati about the campaign to Save the 76 Ball. (Too bad Canada made 'em pot down from half a million watts back in the '30s!)

Gary wondered aloud if we'd been hired by ConocoPhillips to generate controversy after which they could step in and say, "Hey, we didn't know how much you loved our balls. Of course we'll keep them!" Nathan and I think that would be really neat, and are wondering why the ConocoPhillips payments have yet to arrive in our Swiss bank accounts.

If you're near LA today, or like to listen to radio online, tune KFI-AM 640 in at the top of the 4, 5 and 6 o'clock hours (we're not sure exactly which!) and you'll hear more from Nathan and myself about what you can do to help Save the 76 Ball, and what the big sunny orbs mean to Southern Californians, and the world.

Los Angeles says: don't take our balls!

A big thanks from the pals of the 76 Ball to Eric Spillman of the KTLA morning news, for a wonderful feature today. The petition is filling with signatures, well past 1000 now, and we've been contacted by KABC-TV and KFI about doing stories on the campaign.

Word is out about the threat to the 76 Ball at Dodger Stadium, and that is not making Dodger fans happy. ConocoPhillips, won't you talk to the press and the public who buys your gas and explain WHY you are doing this? Better still, just stop knocking down our 76 Balls!

P.S. You can see the KTLA piece, at least for the time being, on their website. Note at the end how they rag on ConocoPhillips for refusing to talk about it. Look under "news videos" for 3/9 - Gas Company To Drop Iconic "76" Ball.

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

| | | | | |

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

| | | | |

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.”