A Visit To The 76 Ball Graveyeard

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Intrepid 76 Ball Fan J. Eric Freedner has made a startling discovery near Fresno, CA, a discovery that bodes well for those of us who believe ConocoPhillips needs to REPLACE the 76 Balls that they've taken down from their poles. He reports:

Well, I had a feeling I would find the "missing" 76 balls and... here they are!

A whole bunch of orange balls is now in the yard of Nelson Sign Service on Golden State Highway (Old Route 99) in Fresno, California.

These weren't here a few months ago!   What do they plan to do with them?   Spheres take up a whole lot more space than flat signs so I have a feeling Mr. Nelson won't keep them around forever...



There are also some flat 76 signs such as this old Fast Break one.  I'm not sure if the "Fast Break" chain is still in business.   Haven't seen any with the new red 76 logos, anyway.
Lots more "petro-jumble" at Nelson's but this sums it up as far as the Balls are concerned.   I would think a similar yard exists for the Los Angeles area, at least for those balls the sign people don't clumsily drop to the ground!    


Nathan Marsak says "Save the 76 Ball!"

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Nathan Marsak, author of the book “Los Angeles Neon” and co-author of the Save The 76 Ball Petition, delivers an impassioned podcast plea that the remaining 76 Balls be kept safe from harm.

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Press Release - Car Owners and California History Buffs Cry: Save the Union 76 Ball!

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Car Owners and California History Buffs Cry: Save the Union 76 Ball!

February 8, 2006  - For immediate release

Click to view petition.

LOS ANGELES- In 2005, ConocoPhillips, the Texas-based energy company that took over the historic California Unocal refineries and gas stations in 2002, commenced a campaign of design terrorism, ripping down the hugely popular orange and blue "76" branded ball signs in favor of a generic flattened red and blue disk.

To give the public a chance to be heard, an online petition has been launched by the authors of L.A.'s 1947project crime history blog. Signers are declaring their intention to boycott if ConocoPhillips doesn't reverse their redesign policy and show proper respect for the beloved 76 ball brand.

Petition co-writer Nathan Marsak, author of "Los Angeles Neon," says "Our urban fabric will lose a groovy, sexy element of its attraction with the disappearance of this turning orb‹an orb that still speaks "progress!" and "fun!" as opposed to its replacement, which resembles some sort of giant tombstone."

The 76 Ball is one of the 20th Century's most successful and enduring design icons. It has its origins in 1932's "Spirit of 76" advertising campaign promoting Union Oil's 76 octane fuel. The orange globe first appeared in 1947, with the familiar version of the design launched in 1962, with the Seattle World's Fair design by Ray Pedersen. In 1967, Unocal launched their wildly popular car antenna ball promotion, distributing 2,500,000 million of the miniature 76 balls in 1993 alone, and creating an antenna-top marketing revolution.

Here's what some of the petition's signers are saying: "I actually buy 76 gas because of their historic branding and am proud to have a 76 ball on my vintage 1963 car." (Mary-Margaret Stratton). . . "I used to buy from a 76 station only 2 blocks from my house. The day ConocoPhillips changed it to red and blue, I stopped patronizing it." (Guy Kudlemyer) . . . "It's like McDonald's dumping the arches. Just wrong!" (Sean Russ). . . "How can you destroy such a trusted icon?" (Kyle Barnes). . . "Please stop destroying American history." (Steve Tepperman).

Petition co-writer Kim Cooper muses, "If ConocoPhillips' intention was to lose any goodwill their customers feel towards the 76 brand, they're off to a great start. In 2004 they withdrew fuel sponsorship of NASCAR--killing off the longest such relationship in the history of the organization--and in late 2005 began chopping down the big orange pumpkin balls that cheer our urban landscape. Since my local station had its orange ball removed, I've started filling my tank elsewhere, and from our petition it sounds like many others are doing the same."

Petition authors Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak are available for interviews.

See the petition here

Sign the Petition

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To sign this petition, click here

To: ConocoPhillips

We, the undersigned, as consumers with an abiding fondness for the striking, historic and uniquely Californian blue and orange ball-shaped Union 76 logo, be it on tall metal poles or car antennae (since 1967), hereby call on ConocoPhillips to reconsider their alteration of the 115-year-old brand, to cease replacing spherical blue and orange 76 balls at gas stations with flattened blue and red disks, and to restore the beloved spheres to the poles where they belong. If ConocoPhillips does not demonstrate greater respect for the the history and goodwill associated with the blue and orange 76 ball, we will be taking our business to other gas sellers.

This petition is being launched on January 31, six days after ConocoPhillips posted fourth quarterly earnings of $3.7 Billion, and we call for a sincere response to our concerns before the announcement of their next second quarterly earnings.


The Undersigned

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