Gas Station Takes on Terrorists

Discussion
Jan 25, 2007

By George Anderson

A new gas station, scheduled to open on Feb. 1 in Omaha, Neb., has a unique point of differentiation with which to market its business. The station, Terror-Free Oil, says it will only sell gasoline from countries not involved in harboring and/or financing terrorists. In short, it will only sell gasoline from oil supplies in the U.S. and Canada.

Joe Kaufman, spokesperson for the Terror-Free Initiative, a Florida-based group established to encourage oil companies to buy crude from nations outside the Middle East, appeared on The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum on the Fox News channel.

“We know that when we go to the pumps we are sending our hard-earned dollars to a part of the world that wants to see us destroyed,” he told Ms. MacCallum. “We are therefore trying to send a message to the companies that purchase their oil from the Middle East that we are sick and tired of financing our own demise.”

As to the impact the Terror-Free Initiative might have on reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil sources, Mr. Kaufman said, “We’re just trying to send that message and we’re saying to the public that they can do their small part as Americans in this war on terrorism by purchasing gasoline from companies that do not get their crude oil from the Middle East.”

Sinclair Oil Corp., Flying J, Inc. and Terror-Free Oil, Inc. are the only brands listed on the Terror-Free Initiative web site that do not sell oil imported from the Middle East. Amerada Hess and Yukos are listed as companies that do not purchase oil from Persian Gulf countries, although Hess is noted for buying crude from Algeria, which is said to be home to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC). The GSPC is said to be a source of recruiting and other support for al Qaeda in Europe.

The Terror-Free Initiative said the Omaha station will not be its last as plans are in place to open other locations. Mr. Kaufman said pump prices at Terror-Free will be competitive with other stations.

Discussion Questions: Will Terror-Free Oil connect with consumers? What do you see as the major pluses or minuses associated with the station’s approach to attracting customers?

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23 Comments on "Gas Station Takes on Terrorists"


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Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

I predict that this station will work. My thinking is that a significant majority of Americans believe Islamic-related terrorism is a serious and continuing threat to America. A large contingent of the chattering classes (political and press) continue to act as if there is no real threat, and all that matters is their own influence and power. ANY terrorist activity will boost sales at stations like this. Don’t overlook that this is beginning in Omaha, not NYC or Washington, DC.

As long as their gasoline is competitively priced, and terrorism remains a significant factor, they should succeed. Those who are working day and night to keep us safe, and continue to drive our explosive national prosperity, are paving the way for their own apparent expendability. And this will make initiatives like terror-free petroleum irrelevant, too.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
15 years 3 months ago
I believe that ever since 9/11 most Americans have felt vulnerable to the dependence on foreign oil and have been willing, even yearning, to make personal sacrifices and do their part in addressing the “War on Terror.” But we have not known how to do it. There have just not been many obvious ways for individuals to help in this global struggle akin to the rationing during WWII, the victory gardens and scrap drives that our grandparents participated in to help that cause. In my opinion the idea to market terror-free oil is a wonderful baby step along this avenue. I think a great many people WILL respond to this. Sure, there will be naysayers that it is too small an effort to make a real difference, and somewhere along the line, an unscrupulous dealer or two will falsely sell Saudi oil as “terror-free” and get caught doing so. But I applaud the concept and I would certainly fill up the gas tank with terror-free petrol if it were to become an option in my… Read more »
George Anderson
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Setting up stations in towns with military bases seems an obvious market ready for this concept.

Personally, since this is being promoted as an act of patriotism and not just a way to make green wrapped in the red, white and blue, I’d like to see Terror-Free Oil stations registered as non-profits. That way they could take all revenues above what it costs to operate and donate them to, say, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. That would truly support those on the front lines fighting whatever war their duty to nation compels them to.

Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
15 years 3 months ago

This appeals to a certain demographic…and I believe it will be highly motivating. For those who care more about ethics than cost, they will likely drive across town to support this. To those who don’t, it won’t matter a bit.

Personally, I think it’s brilliant. But I agree with the point that we need to do more to create alternative fuels so that we are truly freed up from this issue. Imagine where we’d be if we’d done so 20 years ago.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

I doubt this will work. My guess is the gas sold at a terror-free station will look and smell like gas sold at other stations.

Edward Herrera
Guest
Edward Herrera
15 years 3 months ago

This will work if they can get certification that the gas is truly from the U.S. or Canada; if Canada is perceived as an anti-terrorist country and if they raise money to spend against a marketing program. Add anti-terrorism logos to snacks beverages and t-shirts; belong to a web site and question everyone’s patriotism if they do not participate.

There are college groups out there that would jump on board.

I would personally pay an extra 10 cents a gallon to support this initiative and reduce my overall driving miles.

They should buy forward rights to American crude just in case demand exceeds supply or they could create a shortage….

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
15 years 3 months ago

I think several people hit on the bigger topic – “Just how far will we go for profits or savings?” One study is mentioned and I am sure there are others, but I think there is an interesting rationalization that I know I go through and I am sure others also think, “my little purchase is not going to make that big a difference.”

On a broader scope, we have seen even the newest and brightest bow to the constraints of foreign governments as China has put filters on Google and Russia has told Shell they were not environmentally conscientious.

Should U.S. consumers and businesses speak more loudly with their pocketbooks? By all means, but I’ll go after you.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

This is an interesting approach. There is more research demonstrating that Gen Y buys products based upon their “social responsibility” activities. Terrorist-free gas may well appeal to this group. It may even have a broader appeal. Is the appeal strong enough to overcome the “convenience” issues? It might with some groups of consumers.

George Anderson
Guest
George Anderson
15 years 3 months ago
Even if wildly popular, this approach will have a limited impact on oil sales from nations that are said to support terrorists for reasons already given. It is much more likely that the alternative sources of energy listed in the President’s State of the Union address will have the greatest impact on our imports of all oil, regardless of the point of origin. Of course this assumes that we move beyond political rhetoric to real action. I also have to say it is somewhat intellectually dishonest on the part of Terror-Free Oil to accuse all nation states in the Mideast of “seeking our destruction” as Joe Kaufman told Fox News. The U.S. is often the biggest consumer of oil from these nations and our destruction is frankly not in their interest, no matter how many virgins await in heaven. They, as are American consumers, are most often driven by self-interest and commerce than conscience. Finally, while the emotional response to punish countries we see as working against the security of our nation is understandable, it… Read more »
John Lansdale
Guest
John Lansdale
15 years 3 months ago

Some PR folks spin tobacco, others spin hate. Joe Kaufman is one of the later. Rupert Murdoch has found money providing a stage for them. A 1998 Google Newsgroup (FL news) article provides more insight on Terrorist-Free Oil’s spokesman.

“Joseph ‘Joe’ Kaufman, Republican Candidate for State House of Representatives District 96, has announced the creation of Citizens Against Hate. Kaufman formed the organization in response to Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay’s decision to speak at the Black Political & Economic Summit with the highly controversial Reverend Al Sharpton, at the Wyndham Resort & Hotel in Dania.”

Oil is a fungible commodity. Unlike spin, there is no American brand. They only way to stop financing “terrorism” as well as government corruption is to buy less oil from anyone–driving less or getting a more fuel-efficient vehicle. But who knows, a few “folks” still enjoy Kaufman’s product.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 3 months ago
There are a number of factors coming together to drive U.S. interest in “energy evolution” (my term) higher. Eco-energy is one. Energy independence another. And the strongest of all–the deep desire of most of us to preserve what we have come to view as “the American Way of Life.” Some of these factors will have significant near-term impact and some will have sustained influence. The economic appeal to the Midwest of ethanol development has already had a significant short-term impact (including the most recent election). The economic impact of ethanol on our nation’s cost of energy is still in question. The concept of depriving our enemies of oil income also has its appeal to many. On a recent trip to NC I found my nephew’s bio-diesel powered compact sporting a bumper sticker that said “Feed a Farmer–Starve a Terrorist–BIO-DIESEL!.” But even where the “do-good” motivators of environmental responsibility and patriotic duty collide as they do in the mountains of WNC–the realities of consumer markets still play the driving role. There is a price premium some… Read more »
Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 3 months ago

I can’t buy gas there, but was gratified to learn that Flying J is also a “terror-free oil” dealer. I will try and move as much of my gasoline purchasing to Flying J as possible. The countries that breed terrorism are largely “oil economy” countries. Any effort to deny funding which may support the efforts of terrorists has to be a good thing. A shift to retailers who don’t deal in terror oil could send a message to the governments in these states that action on their part is needed to keep the dollars flowing to the Middle East and Venezuela. I certainly hope they do well. We need for this to work.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Great marketing idea that I think will catch on with the consumer. Only one problem: the consumer will never know where what they are putting into their tank is really coming from. Most independents buy gas from a supplier and often suppliers get gas from different refineries or swap product to fill needs.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Don has a good point in the one that he says is inappropriate. As convenience is king (alongside price, of course), this might work if there was a terror-free pump (at the same price) alongside an ordinary one. Unless the terror-free gas is located and priced in a way that makes choosing it effortless, it just won’t attract enough attention or business to do any good at all. How many people have stopped buying the lowest priced clothes and shoes they can find now that they know the retailers and manufacturers are unable to monitor and enforce fair treatment of overseas workers no matter how much they insist they insist on fair practice?

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

I think it’s a fair prediction that “terror-free” oil will succeed in capturing a share-of-tank from a share of the population. Price will most likely be the determining factor in most purchase decisions. Few of us hold political convictions strong enough that we would voluntarily pay a premium for gasoline.

Besides, as any global warming soothsayer or Alaskan environmentalist will insist–there’s really no such thing as terror-free motor fuel.

Mark Hunter
Guest
Mark Hunter
15 years 3 months ago

This concept will certainly be a plus with consumers, short-term. Gasoline is one item people will rarely go out of their way to purchase and this concept may get some consumers to do just that for a short time. Problem is, gasoline is viewed as a commodity and, in time, it is unlikely a substantial number of consumers will drive out of their way to purchase Terror-Free Oil. The result: Terror-Free Oil will survive based on its location and price point rather the concept after the initial buzz wheres off.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
15 years 3 months ago
In a limited number of markets, and in a limited way, this will “work.” Observers of U.S. consumer behavior have consistently shown that morals and ethics, ideals and beliefs are rarely strong enough levers to sustain significant change. How far will the consumer be willing to drive for Terror-Free Oil? How much more will they be willing to pay? Gas tends to be a function of convenience and price. For some, the ideals behind the marketing will be sufficient to change purchasing. Organic foods are a great case in point. The facts about organics have been known for a long time. The distribution system made it hard to find and expensive to buy. Slowly, enough people have changed behavior that the distribution system is changing to accommodate. But that was easy, compared to gas. WM could just create an organics section, and presto! A gas station has to be either Terror-Free or not. It would be inappropriate to have one pump of Terror-Free, and the others not. Sadly, inconvenience in our daily lives is often… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Terror-Free Oil has a great marketing lever. For such a huge industry, gas station marketing rarely has any innovation people outside the industry might talk about. People vote at the cash register, so it’s likely that the Terror-Free concept will survive.

John Franco
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Is there a certification process for “terror-free” gasoline? Do these vendors promise that the gasoline was delivered in trucks fueled by American gasoline? That the refineries only used electricity produced with American resources?

This will be successful as a marketing strategy and consumers will feel that they are doing a good thing, but I question whether they will actually be accomplishing anything.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 3 months ago
I applaud the goal however limited its impact may be. Sadly, gasoline is a price driven commodity–period. Everyone knows the price of gas. You may not know the price of a gallon of milk today, but if you rely on any vehicle for transportation, you do know the price of gas–every day–day in, day out. Price drives the sale of gas and nothing else. Convenience of course plays a part, but many are willing to drive further for a penny or two. They are certainly willing to cross the street for a penny. Loyalty is rare when a few cents per gallon are involved. Patriotism wouldn’t even rank on the list. If Fred sells “terror-free” and Joe sells plain ol’ gas right next door and Joe’s is 10 cents less per gallon, then Joe’s lined up to the road. The same holds true for Fred’s station if he’s less–it sells. Admirable, yes. However, patriotism ended years ago when it comes to the American consumer’s wallet. Americans aren’t “in it” and I seriously question that there… Read more »
Shirl Whiteman
Guest
Shirl Whiteman
15 years 3 months ago

I voted for Terror Free Gas, knowing that, unfortunately, price will win out. Listening, to complaints from consumers about oil dependency, it would really be so simple to make a statement by purchasing oil/gas from sources not supporting such nations or groups. Americans often support product boycotts for similar reasons. I would be willing to pay a little more for the knowledge that the funds from my purchase supported something I believe in and the product comes from a company which shares my values. Taking it a step further, knowing my purchase didn’t fund radical nations or groups is even better.

Suzy Badaracco
Guest
Suzy Badaracco
15 years 3 months ago

I am a trends forecaster for the food industry and picked up on this seemingly unrelated story (seemingly!) because of trends consumers are hitting with food. I think there is a link here between this idea and those generated in the food industry. Some of the main consumer desires surrounding food are the concepts of local, sustainable, custom for me, ethical, community connection, empowerment and control. Consumers tend to apply needs across all areas of their life–so could this work–sure. A recently released study in the food industry also found that consumers are willing to pay a higher price if they see multiple benefits gained from a product. You cannot only look at your own industry to see new trends–you must live spherically.

Jim Sutter
Guest
Jim Sutter
15 years 3 months ago
Mr. Kaufman’s idea is flawed, in that he erroneously indicts all Middle Eastern oil-exporting countries, many of whom are strong US allies. There are only three Middle Eastern countries that are identified by the US State Dept as sponsors of terrorism, and we do not import oil from any of those countries. Both Sinclair Oil (publicly) and Joe Kaufman (very quietly) admit that there will be Middle Eastern oil in their pumps. So why is Kaufman promoting this? Three things should be noted: 1) Kaufman is a well known Islamophobe, condemning every Muslim everywhere. 2) Kaufman spreads fear by doing this, then ceaselessly begs for donations to his “charity” so that he can continue to “fight terrorism.” In two years, just one of his many website “charities” has raised Twenty Million Dollars. The problem? It’s not a charity. The IRS has never heard of it, let alone authorized it as a 501(C)(3) or any form of non-profit. 3) Kaufman says that a percentage of the profits from his “Terror Free Oil” will go to approved… Read more »
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