Says the letter: "In recent months, some companies have generated marketing materials that make claims and comparisons against one another related to engine wear protection ... Interestingly, you did not include Quaker State Q HorsePower full synthetic motor oil in the war of words about wear protection. Perhaps because you know what the team at Quaker State has always known--that no leading full synthetic SAE 5W-30 motor oil provides better wear protection than Quaker State Q HorsePower--not Castrol, not Valvoline, not Mobil 1."
Troy Chapman, director of marketing at Quaker State, says the claims and counter-claims began in the third quarter last year when Valvoline said its high-performance SynPower motor oil is four times better at reducing engine wear than Mobil 1, citing the Sequence 4A test--one of many used for motor oil certification--that measures friction and wear. "It was back and forth between Valvoline and Mobil 1 on the topic," he says. In February, Castrol broke ads around its Edge motor oil, claiming it is eight times better at wear protection than Mobil 1.
Also last month, Quaker State launched a campaign, "Real. Durable. Oil"--which said, in part, that its Advanced Durability motor oil performs two times better than the industry standard. "So, there are four brands in the marketplace talking Sequence 4A," Chapman says. "It's important because consumers are confused. [In our] consumer research we see comments asking which is four times better or eight times better ... we are trying to focus our energy on bringing clarity to the situation."
Copies of Quaker State's letter will also be delivered today to executives at Valvoline, Castrol and Mobil.
Quaker State will pay for comparison tests and has arranged for a third-party applied research organization to conduct it. "So, if you really believe your product can protect against wear the best," says Harman in his letter, "here is your opportunity to prove it."
The letter gives competitors until March 27 to reply.