Maybe it's that good PR for oil companies is so rare that they don't know what to do when they get some. That appears to be the case for Shell Oil, which looks like it'll get a billion people looking at its logo during the World Cup soccer tournament -- more or less for free.
The Trinidad team will be accompanied by 10,000 steel drum players, according to Bloomberg News. (And you thought they were noisy in the subway...) Steel drums, you may not realize, are made from discarded or otherwise liberated 55-gallon oil drums.
"For many of the world's estimated 35,000 panmen, the sweetest-sounding music comes from the 55-gallon, 20-gauge red steel oil barrels made in Shell's lubricant mixing plant on Barracones Bay in Trinidad."
This means that the billion people tuning in to the World Cup have an excellent chance of seeing the Shell logo in a fun upbeat setting. Great product placement.
The trouble is, there are Rules about reusing oil drums. If Shell says Yup, those are ours and isn't it great, they're polluters. If they say, Nope, we have no idea how our logo got on those instruments, they look Dumb. Which is why you get quotes like this in the same story:
" `It's officially against corporate policy for us to hand out oil barrels,'' the 37-year-old [Gerard] Mitchell [country head of shell Trinidad Ltd.] frets. ``We really don't know what to do about all this.'''
"Suppressing a grin, Rosales, Shell's barrel superintendent, says, ``I know we make the best musical oil drums in the world.'"
The story's great fun, with lots of detail you didn't know you cared about. Check it out.