Shell drives recognition for new gasoline brand

When Shell launched its Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline product, the company and Edelman, the global AOR for Shell retail, sought to use new communications initiatives while leveraging the company's existing efforts.

Company: Shell

Campaign: Launch of Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline

PR Team: Shell (Houston, TX) and Edelman (Los Angeles)

Duration: March 2, 2009 – mid-April 2009

Budget: Under $500,000

When Shell launched its Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline product, the company and Edelman, the global AOR for Shell retail, sought to use new communications initiatives while leveraging the company's existing efforts. Last year's campaign with its messaging about “gunk,” the carbon deposits that gather and hinder engine performance, became a springboard for the new gasoline product, which will “seek and destroy gunk from lower-grade gas,” according to Karen Wildman, Shell North American brand and communications manager.

“Every drop of Shell gas has this nitrogen cleaning system,” says Wildman, emphasizing that this new gasoline is available across all Shell pumps, not just at the premium level. “The ‘gunk' messaging provided the platform to launch this product.”

Strategy

The PR team wanted to reach the media, the niche automotive enthusiast audience, and a broader consumer audience of drivers nationwide. To do so, it targeted automotive reporters with information about how this new gasoline was “meant to be compatible with emerging engine and automotive technology,” in addition to its gunk-reducing capabilities, says Dan Shaw, VP of Edelman's corporate and public affairs group.

Although the company believed automotive enthusiasts would be receptive to the new product, it knew gasoline, in general, might not inspire excitement in the average driver.

“For a lot of people, refueling their car is something they have to do, not something they look forward to,” says Chris Manzini, SVP and head of Edelman's corporate and public affairs group and North American client relationship manager for Shell. “One of the challenges Shell has is to really educate consumers that not all fuel is the same.”

Tactics

To pique the interest of a general audience, Shell conducted the Dr. FuelGood Shell Nitrogen Enriched RMT, and offered 20 free gallons of the new gasoline to consumers in seven key markets, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. In conjunction, it executed media outreach in print, online, and across broadcast.

A Webinar about the new product was also dispatched for media and influencers in the automotive enthusiast market.

Shell also leveraged its multiyear sponsorship of the Number 29 car driven by Kevin Harvick to reach Nascar audiences via the Motorsports Radio Network (MRN) and the On Pit Row program and blog. Paid advertising and a paid sponsorship with radio program On Air with Ryan Seacrest to promote a gift card giveaway complemented the efforts.

Results

According to Wildman, the Webinar allowed Shell to reach 15 top-tier journalists, and the campaign earned media hits on CNET.com, MSNMoney.com, Convenience Store News, and other outlets. The new Shell gasoline was also integrated into segments featured on broadcast programming such as The Jimmy Kimmel Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the Today show.

Shell gave away more than 25,000 gallons of gasoline to consumers in the seven key markets featuring radio promotions. There was also local broadcast coverage of the giveaway.

Wildman said the company has also increased its gasoline sales since the launch.

Future

The launch activity was the foundation for activities surrounding the Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline for the rest of the year.

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