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Shell Oil Co. is pumping its equity in auto racing into the company's biggest marketing push ever, a scratch-and-win contest that is the first of several major promotions this year.

The "Fast Cars, Fast Win" promotion kicks off today, combining Shell's three motorsports sponsorships-Championship Auto Racing Teams driver Brian Hurda, Nascar star Bobby Labonte and daredevil Craig Breedlove-into one integrated push, created by Ogilvy & Mather, Houston.


The effort is three times larger than any promotion in the past, and while spending has been estimated at $20 million, Shell executives wouldn't confirm that.

Shell will borrow from quick-service marketers like McDonald's Corp. as it ramps up marketing efforts, said Caryn Crump, Shell brand positioning manager, who came to the No. 1 gas marketer in December from Coca-Cola Foods.

"We want to start having a continuous Shell message in the marketplace, continuously offering promotions and events and reasons for consumers to keep coming back," she said.


The five-week scratch-and-win promotion gives consumers the chance to win $1 million. Shell is producing 60 million cards, with $6 million in prizes.

The promotion is being supported with three 30-second commercials, each basically the same-a woman challenges the three drivers to a race around a track in her AMC Gremlin (of course, she wins). Besides a general spot, one touts Shell's Auto Care service and another plugs Shell's ETD convenience-store adjunct. A Spanish-language spot will air in nine markets.

"Fast Cars, Fast Win" will play in the 39 states where such effortless promotions are allowed. In the 11 states that require a modicum of skill to play games of chance, like New Jersey, Shell will execute a "Trivial Pursuit" scratch-and-win program.


Shell has been increasing its involvement with CART and Nascar over the past two years. It has sponsored Mr. Breedlove's past efforts to break world land speed records and will do so again this fall when he goes after the current mark in the Shell-fueled Spirit of America 3.

That quest will be the subject of Shell's next major promotion, set to hit in July, in the heart of driving season.

"Our objective right now is to develop programs that keep our loyal consumers while drawing swing consumers who will, hopefully, stay with us after the promotion is over," Ms. Crump said.

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