TEXACO TANKS UP ON MARKETING TACTICS FOR NEW DETERGENT GAS

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Texaco this week unveils an aggressive integrated marketing effort aimed at separating its new CleanSystem3 gasoline from the pack.

The company will spend an estimated $20 million on traditional advertising, an infomercial and promotion marketing programs as it attempts to overcome consumers' beliefs that gasoline is a commodity with little difference among brands (AA, Feb. 21).

Texaco is calling CleanSystem3 a technological breakthrough, saying the gasoline will improve engine performance, lower emissions and increase gas mileage. Other detergent gasolines can deliver on one or two of these claims but not all three, said Mark Johnson, manager of motor fuels advertising for Texaco.

Advertising from Campbell Mithun Esty, New York, starts March 1 on the Grammy Awards and will run on network and spot TV, spot radio, and in magazines. Drivers will be invited to "Give us 60 days and watch what can happen," under the overall theme "Changing what gasoline can do." A 30-minute infomercial, titled "The Freedom to Move," will run in eight key Texaco markets. Actor James Earl Jones does voiceover in both TV and radio.

Texaco will run newspaper ads in 51 markets with $1 off coupons, and sponsor a frequent-fueler program with rebates of $5 on nine fillups. The marketer also signed on as official petroleum advertiser on ABC and NBC telecasts of Major League Baseball, starting in July. The company will be the first retail outlet for all-star balloting.

Among Texaco's competitors, Shell Oil Co.'s FormulaShell and Mobil Oil Corp.'s Super Plus Detergent Gasoline make engine cleaning claims. And analysts don't expect Texaco to be alone for long. CleanSystem3 will spark other gasoline marketers to follow its lead and come up with products that clean engines better, said Frank Knuettel, an analyst for Prudential Securities Research, New York.

"It won't be long before another gasoline company picks apart CleanSystem3, finds out what's in it and makes their own version," he said.

Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Letter, an oil marketing newsletter, agreed that "detergent gasolines that will clean the combustion chamber are the next trend in gasoline."

Competition within the gasoline category is already very close. Amoco Oil Co. owns 7.31% of the 116 billion-gallon market; Shell, 7.27%; and Texaco, 6.98%, according to Lundberg Letter estimates for 1993.

Texaco could pass rivals if it has the same success that the marketer had with CleanSystem3's predecessor, System3, which was introduced five years ago and boosted Texaco's market share by 1 full percentage point.

"Our gain in market share since 1989 is attributable directly to the new product," said Gene McGraw, VP-marketing for Texaco.

CleanSystem3, in three octane grades, replaces all other gasolines sold by Texaco. Pricing for the gasoline will be competitive and move independently of the new additive in CleanSystem3, Mr. Johnson said.

Texaco is aggressively targeting women, who make up 49% of its customers and are the fastest growth segment.

"Ladies in particular like anything that mentions the word clean," thus explaining the company's environmental strategy in naming the new product, Mr. McGraw said.

Texaco's ad effort began with a teaser campaign in December starring race car driver Mario Andretti, then followed with a corporate campaign themed "Look for the next generation of clean gasoline."

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