Sometimes oil and oil just don't mix

By Published on .

Pennzoil-Quaker State Co. wants to further separate the nation's top-selling motor-oil brands that merged under the same corporate umbrella in December 1998.

"Pennzoil stands for protection and Quaker State for performance, and the new advertising campaigns are driving that into each brand," said Steve Hanson, senior VP-marketing for both brands. While No. 1 selling Pennzoil has long staked out a protection positioning, No. 2 Quaker State's performance stance "is a fairly new direction," he added.

Quaker State tapped celebrity car buffs for its performance ads, arriving today on national broadcast and cable networks. The Tucker Partnership, New York, created a trio of :30s that replace the agency's two-year run with Leah Remini of CBS sitcom "The King of Queens." She pitched the engine-protecting benefits of changing oil every 3,000 miles.

Each execution focuses on a single new product, but also shows the full line of motor oils, said Don Shepherd, brand management director of Quaker State. "We're trying to have one family umbrella and talk about our segmented products."

Baseball great Cal Ripken appears in the spot for Quaker State's Peak Performance for newer car engines. He is shown playing a motorsports video game with real-life son Ryan and neighbors before heading to change his oil.

Musician Billy Gibbons of the rock band ZZ Top appears with his classic-car collection to tout High Mileage oil for older vehicles.

`truly meaningful'

The new Full Synthetic for advanced engines is spotlighted in the spot with ex-Formula One driver Skip Barber, with a cameo from Nascar driver Jeff Gordon.

The commercials introduce an industry-first warranty covering all lubricated engine parts for do-it yourselfers. "We wanted to do something truly meaningful for consumers to drive home the brand message," Mr. Shepherd said.

The warranty covers 10 years and 250,000 miles; the vehicle must initially be under four years old with no more than 38,000 miles. Owners must keep motor-oil receipts and change oil regularly.

Quaker State's target is now the car enthusiast, mainly males ages 18 to 34 who prefer to change their own motor oil, said Mr. Hanson. Pennzoil's 18-to-49-year-old target, 60% of whom are women, generally prefer to pay someone to change their oil; the industry calls them "do-it-for-me" consumers.

Mr. Hanson said Quaker State ad spending will nearly double this year from 2001. He declined to give specifics, but the brand is expected to get a $25 million media push, mostly national TV, through November.

Pennzoil's estimated $25 million, "we're driving protection" campaign broke last month. Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Texas, created a trio of humorous :30s. The spot for Pennzoil's High Mileage shows a woman on a blind date with a guy who drives his old car in reverse to keep miles off the odometer.

When Pennzoil-Quaker announced its 2001 results Feb. 5, it said its two motor oil brands had a combined U.S. market share of 35.8% through last November, or 0.4 share points off the prior year. The marketer reported 2001 total revenue of $2.3 billion, a 4.7% drop vs. 2000, due to the sale of non-strategic business.

James Postl, president-CEO, said in a statement the marketer took aggressive steps in the second half of 2001 that boosted performance over 2000. While high gasoline costs in the past few years caused soft demand for car products, he said, "many of these market forces are trending back in our favor. ... We anticipate double-digit year-over-year earnings growth."

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