New Mobil motor oil gets $15 mil push

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Exxon Mobil Corp. is launching its first Mobil-branded, semi-synthetic motor oil in an estimated $15 million blitz.

Coyne Communications, Morristown, N.J., created the 30-second TV spot for Mobil's Drive Clean Blend that broke over the weekend on cable TV. The media flight, mainly TV, will run heavily through the third quarter.

The spot, shot in Toronto recently, shows engine parts being thrown into a washing machine. "If only cleaning your engine was as easy as cleaning your clothes," the voice-over says. Animation then depicts the motor oil cleaning parts of a car's engine. The brand's motor oil tag remains "Mobil engines live clean, drive clean."

Thomas Schimoler, executive creative director of the agency, said using "an icon like a washing machine" strongly demonstrates benefits of Mobil's semi-synthetic oil.

The new product is mainly aimed at car owners of all ages who hire others to change their oil, said Tom Coyne, president-CEO of the agency.

The agency took the creative to focus groups in the first quarter, he said. Consumers revealed they know they have to change oil in their cars, but they don't know why or what exactly that does, Mr. Coyne said. So the spot explains why you need to change your oil.

MOBIL DOMINATES SYNTHETICS

Mobil has dominated the full-synthetic category for many years, but until now, it hasn't had a semi-synethic entry. Because of that, it didn't compete in the segment with key players Valvoline Co., Castrol North America and Pennzoil-Quaker State's Quaker brand, according to industry market researcher NPD Group. The Pennzoil brand is making good headway as a newcomer in the semi- or blend category with its new Synthetic With Pennzane product, also available in a full synthetic. Pennzoil's Synthetic lines were launched in early February with a $20 million ad campaign from GSD&M, Austin, Texas.

The average price of semi-synthetics is about $2.10 a quart, according to NPD. The category sits between the lowest-price conventional motor oils and synthetics, which cost about $4 per quart. Conventional motor oils still account for most sales and volume in the category.

The campaign is a boost for Coyne, which had done collateral and Web site work for Mobil motor oils over the past 18 months. The shop now is handling all integrated marketing and advertising for the Drive Clean Blends, Mr. Coyne said. The agency also created print to appear in trade magazines, aimed at car dealers and others who change oil for customers.

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