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Caltex - bought and sold

How Caltex maneuvered its global rebrand

Global – For at least a decade, Caltex had been airing its “What Drives You” campaign. While it was time for a change, the challenge was convincing executives of the need for it. In fact, the biggest obstacle was the campaign was already successful.

“The sentiment was, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” says Hari Ramanathan(pictured, left), head of strategy of Asia for Young & Rubicam, Caltex’s appointed agency.

Up until 2010, the Caltex brand was managed on a global basis with all major decisions referred to global headquarters in California. But this changed when Chevron split its global business into two: the Americas and International Products. This way, the Singapore-based Caltex global brand manager gained more control over the brand, which reported into the International Products leadership, also based in Singapore.

The agency’s first task? Caltex’s brand makeover.

The brief

“The brief given to Y&R was really to give us a new platform for the brand that would relate to customers across diverse countries from New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, and across Southeast Asia all the way to South Africa and Pakistan,” says Brian Fisher(pictured, right), Caltex’s global brand manager.

The new campaign efforts had to appeal to a broad range of customers – from affluent drivers to truck drivers, scooter riders, taxi drivers, in fact anyone that used petrol and diesel fuels.

And several factors would shape the rebrand. One of the selling points its ads have always emphasised is its fuel additive Techron, which cleans engines as it powers, leading to better performance.

“Our first thought was, how can we re-energise this brand without re-inventing what’s good about it?” Ramanathan says.

“There are the pot holes, bad drivers, lots of jams and more. We asked what Caltex’s role could be, especially in a category associated with that experience?”

It was decided the rebrand had to be experiential, meeting the consumer at several points instead of just on TV or print ads. “The entire brand experience, not just the ads, must be delivered from the minute motorists drive into a Caltex until they drive out,” he says.

Multiple market rollout

The biggest challenge was not convincing the client, but getting all the key stakeholders across the nine markets in which it would roll out to buy into the ideas, added Ramanathan.

The entire process took nearly a year to finalise. “We’ve been in many rooms this size covered in white sheets of paper,” says Fisher, gesturing to the room we sit in.

“We realised the best way to get all the different stakeholders to buy into the campaign, was if they felt they had contributed to it, and therefore had some ownership of the idea.”

A workshop was held involving all the major stakeholders, including regional and local brand managers, as well as input from non-brand departments, along with the Y&R team.

The best work was presented to a room of nearly 30 Caltex executives. The group was at Fort Canning Hotel, armed with post-it notes and red and blue pens, with one wall covered in concepts.

“We got everyone in the room to mark out in blue pens on post-its if they liked an idea, or red pens if they didn’t and stick these on the work. The ones that got the most blue post-it notes were chosen,” Fisher says.

Executives from product engineering were also in the room to make sure what was said in marketing collaterals was correct. This was aimed at coming up with a final concept executives could be confident in selling to retailers, and for them to make any behavioural or aesthetic changes they had to live up to for what the campaign would promote.

From there, Caltex began a thorough rebrand. Aside from shooting its TVCs for each market, it also had radio and outdoor ads targeted at motorists. Branded content initiatives such as Caltex’s Supa Strikas ran on cable and terrestrial TV channels. The new TV commercial, “Enjoy the Journey” ran across all the nine markets, but customised to each one.

Locally, Caltex also launched a campaign through Facebook, FuelDemocracy. Three days before National Day, it launched a campaign promising it would offer a corresponding increase in discounts offered on 9 August with each “Like” it got on its page.

“So we eventually ended up with 12,000 Likes by midnight of 8th-9th and we gave 18% off. It was the number one page in terms of engagement in the month of August, according to Social Bakers (a social analytics site).”

Since then, traction has been ongoing, with the page hitting more than 22,000 Likes. This also translated into a 90% hike in sales on National Day, bucking the low sales trend on public holidays.

For the full story, read Marketing Magazine Singapore’s January issue.

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