On May 1, Mobil will start offering customers a free key-size tran-sponder wand that activates gas pumps at participating stations. The device also automatically debits the customer's purchase from a predesignated charge card.
Mobil is betting the service will be a boon for customer loyalty because of the convenience it offers.
Speedpass has been testing since last August in St. Louis, and the 11,000 customers using it there "did get gas about one time more per month" than non-Speedpass customers, a Mobil spokeswoman said.
HELL PLANS DEVICE, TOO
While it's the first to offer such technology, Mobil won't be alone for long. Shell Oil Products Co. is developing a gas debit device called Easy Pay, to be tested this summer in two markets.
Shell also plans to take convenience one step further; its Smart Pump, testing this year in Sacramento, Calif., will let customers buy gas without getting out of their cars.
DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, is creating advertising for the rollout of Speedpass, using the tagline "The fastest way to get gas."
Omnicom Group sibling Rapp Collins Worldwide handles direct marketing and point of purchase. Burrell Communications Group, Chicago, produced one of the campaign's three 30-second TV spots, targeted to African-Americans.
TV breaks May 1 in Speedpass' nine new markets: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, New Hampshire, Orlando, Rhode Island, San Diego and Washington, D.C. Print ads start this week in USA Today.
"In the TV creative, we're talking about what if everything were this convenient," said Ed Hogikyan, DDB Needham management supervisor for Speedpass.
MAKING WORLD A BETTER PLACE
Spots suggest that if buying houses and cars or getting to work were as easy as using Speedpass, the world might be a better place.
The campaign is aimed at a demographic Mr. Hogikyan called "road warriors," a mostly male group that usually travels by car and makes frequent visits to filling stations.
Speedpass sign-up will be available online (www.mobil.com/
speedpass), and on May 12, DDB Needham starts running banner ads on other Web sites touting the online sign-up.
This week, Rapp Collins is sending 320,000 Speedpass kits, which include transponders, to Mobil cardholders identified as strong prospects.
The agency is sending another 200,000 to 300,000 Mobil customers mailers inviting them to order Speedpass and will follow up both efforts with additional mailings, telemarketing support and take-away fliers in stations.
Also under consideration: expanding the Speedpass technology to purchases at Pizza Hut, Blimpie's, Tim Horton's, Vie de France, and 1,200 On-the-Run fast-