Pennzoil Expands Music Strategy With 8-Amphitheater Live Nation Deal

Courtesy Photo
Ok Go performing in Pennzoil's Backstage Pass online series.

Douglas Kooyman, global brand director for Pennzoil, knows how inherently un-sexy the marketing of motor oil can be. “There’s a time place to talk about chemistry and molecules, and there’s a time and place to have fun,” he concedes.

But for the last several years, Pennzoil has been relying on the music industry for the “having fun” part of Kooyman’s marketing philosophy, from partnering with Tim McGraw for 2012’s Billboard Touring Award-winning tour campaign and 2013 Vevo series “Turn Up The Music & Drive”, to its current online program “Backseat Pass,” which has hosted intimate “backseat” concerts featuring Echosmith, Delta Spirit and Love And Theft since its debut in late 2014.

Further expanding on that strategy, Pennzoil and its parent company Shell Oil Products have inked a deal with Live Nation (developed by agency MediaCom Entertainment & Sports) to become the exclusive motor fuel and lubricant sponsor of eight Live Nation venues in North America. Participating venues are Atlanta’s Aaron’s Amphitheatre; Chicago’s First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre; Dallas’ Gexa Energy Pavilion; Charlotte, NC’s PNC Music Pavilion; Philadelphia’s Susquehanna Bank Center; San Francisco’s Shoreline Amphitheater; Irvine’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and Toronto’s Molson Canadian Amphitheatre.

“One of the benefits to working with Live Nation is they have a lot of flexibility to identify markets and opportunities across a lot of different venues and bands,” Kooyman says. “Our core consumer is an automotive enthusiast who turns a wrench on their own car, but we wanted to reach a younger demographic who may be more casual in their approach to motor oils. We value people looking make the switch to Pennzoil and our full synthetic product, and we see this as a good place to start that conversation.”

So far, Pennzoil’s enhanced music programming seems to be paying off for the brand — “Backseat Pass” has logged more than 5 million views from its microsite and YouTube and Facebook pages, with a 21 percent “action rate” of consumers who’ve interacted with the brand beyond the video clips. The latest episode, featuring The Delta Spirit, premiered Monday (July 6), with one more installment expected later this year to complete the 12-episode series.

“As we looked at all the connection points of the relationships between music and cars, one of the obvious connections we found was this idea of music riding shotgun with you when you’re on a road trip or a journey,” says Morgan Buksbaum, senior partner/vice president at Group M’s Mediacom Entertainment and Sports. “And one thing we heard increasingly from artists like Tim McGraw was this idea of the car as this proving ground to test new material, that they would go from the studio to their car and listen to new material. This helped bring us new insights about how consumers and artists alike are passionate about music and cars.”

Plus, music has helped Pennzoil stand out in a category that has historically relied on sports and NASCAR sponsorships via competing brands like Mobil, Valvoline and Castrol. And that starts with Pennzoil’s retail and distribution partners, which Kooyman says the brand has now been able to host at VIP experiences around Live Nation tours, including Zac Brown Band’s current Jekyll & Hyde outing and the Foo Fighters’ North American tour.