The Esso Oil Drop Man

Retro Staff 15 Comments

Esso Oil Drop Man and GirlThe Esso Oil Drop Man is an advertising character that was first seen in campaigns by Esso’s Danish company during World War II.  He was created to explain the reason behind shortages in petroleum products during the war.  Soon after his debut, other European affiliates began to use this cute character in their advertising campaigns.

In 1958, the Esso Oil Drop Man was introduced in the United States for Standard Oil, the larger company that owned Esso.  In 1959, Esso and Standard Oil were incorporated by Humble Oil, but continued to sell gasoline under the Esso name.

The Esso Oil Drop Man was paired with the trademark slogan, “Happy Motoring!”  This may be the reason he was named Happy.

Happy the Oil Drop Man appeared in print ads and publications, but was most well known for his appearances on Esso’s service station maps.  These maps could be purchased for a modest fee, and one could get a map, or “Travel Aid”, for many countries in Western Europe, North Africa, the USA and Canada.

Sometimes, Happy appeared with an oil drop woman, but little is known about her or her name.  They often appeared together driving in a red convertible.

In the 1960s, Happy’s popularity began to slide and eventually became nonexistent after the domination of the Humble Tiger in the advertising campaigns.

Throughout the ’50s and early ’60s, there was a lot of different merchandise created featuring the Esso Oil Drop Man.  The selection ranged from very popular key chains to figurines, and from maps to containers and booklets.  The merchandise was created and sold in countries around the world, with many different styles available.  Today, much of this merchandise are treated as valuable collector’s items.

If anyone has more information about the Esso Oil Drop Man or his Oil Drop Girlfriend, please comment and let us know!

Last updated: May 07, 2009
Filed under: Retro Advertising, Retro Characters Tagged with: gas companies, retro advertising, retro marketing