Shell Uses DM to Fuel V-Power

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Shell Oil Products U.S., Houston, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Co., began a $30 million campaign promoting its new premium gasoline, Shell V-Power.


The premium-grade gas is designed to clean the engine while consumers drive. It is available at all 13,000 Shell stations nationwide.


Along with direct mail, the effort includes ads in major consumer publications and national exposure on cable television and radio in 20 primary markets. Other parts of the mix will be Internet advertising, a public relations program and point-of-purchase displays at all Shell stations.


J. Walter Thompson, Shell's lead ad agency, created the campaign. Shell worked with smaller agencies as well.


The direct mail component reaches homes in late July or August.


"We provided an opportunity for all of our stations to participate in this direct mail campaign, and about 9,500 of the sites opted in to participate," said Brooks Herring, manager, brand and strategy, Shell Oil Products U.S. Third-party retailers operate all of Shell's gas stations.


The retailers will target customers and prospects near their service stations who have a propensity to buy the gasoline. The retailers will send about 9.5 million pieces, which feature an educational element that explains Shell V-Power and a coupon to entice them to try the product.


Generally, the mail pieces offer two coupons for $2 off a fill-up of 10 gallons or more.


"There are some states where we can only offer a $1 coupon because of some legal implications," Herring said. "But everywhere we can, we offer $2."


Recipients will have two weeks to use the coupons.


"We only get 30 seconds to tell people about a product on TV, so [direct mail] is one of the components that allows us to provide more educational information about the product and to get something into people's hands that will try to get them into the station."


The new gasoline will be featured in Shell's monthly opt-in e-newsletter LocalShell. Shell is also using banner ads on major sites, including those of media outlets in which Shell uses print media -- such as www.time.com -- as well as sites like Yahoo. When the banner is clicked, visitors end up on www.shellvpower.com, which gives information about the gas and where it can be purchased.


A "Yellow Tang" fish is featured in all elements of the campaign. Herring mentioned Shell's corporate sea-branding theme, "so we try to do most of our advertising within that framework," he said.


The advertising includes the tag line, "Actively Cleans While You Drive."


Shell also created a mobile marketing tour that will visit about 20 major U.S. markets. As part of the interactive tour, consumers can have their picture taken with a Shell Ferrari F1 racecar while learning more about Shell V-Power.


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