Getting your first car was once an important, liberating milestone for teens, but now, just 54% bother to get their driver’s licenses by age 18, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Today, members of the millennial and Gen Z generations express themselves through social media feeds and smartphones, not by the make and model of their rides. As a result, they’re less inclined to buy, let alone work on, cars. Motor oil brand Pennzoil, headquartered in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and owned by Shell Oil Co., recognized a need to boost relevance among a demographic that’s more into iTunes than tune-ups. “We’re an oil brand, and it’s a fairly low involvement category from a broad consumer perspective,” says Doug Kooyman, global brand director at Pennzoil. “We’re striving to change brand perception and drive brand preference in a very unique category.”
Pennzoil, along with its New York-based agency of record MediaCom, partnered with Los Angeles-based music media and events company Live Nation Inc. to create a campaign called Backseat Pass, with the tagline “Motor oil reimagined.” The campaign, which included video, Web and experiential marketing elements, tapped recording artists like OK Go, Teagan and Sarah, Godsmack and Delta Spirit to create unique versions of their own hit songs and were filmed performing and recording in the back of a Pennzoil-branded Durango that drove around Los Angeles over the past year. The performances were filmed and lived on a Pennzoil-branded microsite, PennzoilBackseatPass.com, which also promoted a campaign sweepstakes in which one fan won a flight and VIP tickets to a Live Nation festival of their choice.
“Pennzoil is like most brands: looking at younger consumers, wanting to expand their audience and find new drivers,” says Jeremy Levine, senior vice president of digital sales at Live Nation. “[The campaign] is less about the old school gear head and more about Joe Smith, who drives to work every day and wants to be as efficient as possible.”