CHAPTER 7: “You Can Be Sure of Shell….”

“You Can Be Sure of Shell” was one of the best-known advertising slogans of all time.  First used in Great Britain during 1937 in print advertising it subsequently became a jingle sung on television by the legendary American “crooner,” Bing Crosby.

Those of pensionable age may fondly remember the advertising jingle – “You can be Sure of Shell,” – featured in TV commercials aired in the 1950′s. The song was ideally suited to the legendary crooner, Bing Crosby, who sung the praises of Shell.

This was way back in the days of smiling pump attendants, long before the advent of self-service gasoline pumps.

The slogan was first used in Great Britain by Shell in 1937, just months after the resignation of Sir Henri Deterding as the controversial leader of the Royal Dutch Shell Group.

Perhaps the slogan was created to rebuild confidence in the company and its products?

Fortunately, we have some guidance from a Shell Chairman, Mark Moody-Stuart.

On 2 December 1997, the Guardian newspaper published a letter from him under the title: “You can be sure of Shell.”

The letter was in response to an extraordinary wide-ranging indictment of the oil giant, in a Guardian newspaper article by Andrew Rowell: “Unlovable Shell: The Goddess of Oil.”

The adoption of the slogan as a headline to his letter was presumably meant to convey the message that Shell now had principles that would not be sacrificed to profit.

Shell supposedly respects human rights and is trustworthy because it operates within an ethical framework.

Ironically, the letter was published at the time when Shell’s aptly named “value creation teams” were engaged in activities leading to the previously mentioned falsification of Shell’s oil and gas reserves. A debacle later described by a U.S. lawyer in a BBC interview as one of the biggest investor frauds in history.

The Guardian article that provoked the Shell response mentioned Shell’s secret negotiations with Hitler and the Nazis.

In his letter to the Guardian, Moody-Stuart (now Sir Mark Moody-Stuart) neglected to deal with this taboo subject. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.
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