A Resurrection & Rebranding of the ’Happy Oil Drop Kid’ (A.K.A ‘Happy’ / ‘Mr Drip’ / ‘Monsieur Drip’ / ‘Herr Tropf’)


The Happy Oil Drop Kid was the failsafe mascot for ‘Esso Gasoline & Lubricants’ worldwide during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. In his prime, ODK was central to the mass marketing campaigns of the Esso Brand and its parent company ‘Humble Oil Refining’. Adorned on a vast array of merchandising and appearing in TV Commercials or on Billboard Ads, ODK’s supremely happy demeanour dovetailed nicely with his depictions as a restless sprite-like creature, always available wherever, whenever and at service to all.

Unfortunately he was usurped when the bold Esso Tiger (‘Put a Tiger in your tank’) burst onto the scene in 1964. Consigning the diminutive ODK to obscurity.

Now the ODK appears resurrected & rebranded within my narrative. As a Puck-like, pernicious influence in a run of serio-comic renderings.


There’s a fair amount of ‘Oil Drop Kid’ imagery available on-line, mostly relating to the market in vintage corporate company merchandise (key-rings, stickers, posters etc). In realising the character as partly recognisable to its’ original depiction, I’ve adapted some of those examples. But most of the ODK visual reference have come via screenshots taken from an old Esso ad. Essentially I’m tracing the shapes he throws whilst he performs his routine. Then they’re tampered with.

ODK’s presentation now of being ‘Rebranded’ allows for further anachronistic twists. His garb switches from pristine overalls to a heraldic inspired patterned outfit, emblazoned with the icon of a Sun (a foreshadow of greenwashing?). He could feasibly now chime with the Surreal, often disruptive imagery we know as ‘Medieval Marginalia’.

Ultimately, the scene is set for a meeting of the ODK with an unsuspecting Dollhouse. It’s looking ominous.

David Jacques