Auto shopping and research site Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com) has launched a cross-branded program with Shell's motor-oil brand Quaker State. The program, a first-time partnership -- and what KBB describes as the first in its nearly 90-year history -- makes Quaker State the "official oil" of KBB.com. As part of the deal, Kelley Blue Book will specify the use of Quaker State oils in all of its long-term test vehicles, per the company.
The effort includes paid and earned media with a series of informational videos focused on ways consumers can "drive longevity and durability for their vehicle using Quaker State products." The videos feature tech people from both KBB.com and Quaker State.
Jack Nerad, who heads up editorial at KBB, suggested the program makes sense because of the increasing age of vehicles hitting the used market. "In fact, we’ve seen an uptick in the average search age for a vehicle on the website go from three to five years old,” he said, in a release.
A PR initiative that Quaker State and Kelley Blue Book will be kicking off is designed, the companies say, "to provide consumers with value-oriented seasonal automotive and driving advice, both online and in retail stores."
Quaker State is working on a deal whereby consumers can get the KBB Value of their vehicles up to $3,000 when they reach 300,000 miles under the warranty program using eligible Quaker State products.
The auto site this time last year launched its first-ever national TV campaign around new-car shopping, rather than what it has been traditionally known for: used cars. The company also used the campaign to change its "trusted seal" logo.
Jim Sanfilippo, auto consultant and former head of Hyundai’s agency Innocean USA, wonders if a deal like this puts KBB at risk of losing its third-party status by becoming an endorser of the product.
“They are trying to modify what they are supposed to be: a neutral rating,” he says, arguing that KBB built credibility on being that “solution neutral” platform.
“Edmunds was early in telling consumers ‘this is a good car and we know what they are paying for it in your areas.’ KBB got into lead generation and pretty competitive with Edmunds,” he says, adding that because of the volume it has generated by this position in the market, it is a good traditional advertising buy. “But with this, I think it’s pushing too far; you are the cost-of-ownership guys, indirectly, because resale is the biggest component of that. So why not be solution neutral and get everyone to advertise?”