Shell Lubricants' new digital campaign glorifies industry collaborations

Shell Lubricants has helped companies in India achieve cost savings of close to Rs 570 million
How do you engage customers in a low-involvement category? Or introduce some joie de vivre into a category long distinguished by predictable problem-solution advertising? 

These are questions that rankle advertisers in categories — and brands in those categories — that call for what is euphemistically called ‘hardworking advertising’ — the kind that doesn’t get talked about or win many awards, but draw the attention of the target audience nonetheless. An obvious answer for them is to rope in a star from Bollywood or cricket. A recent campaign by Shell Lubricants — not exactly an exciting category by any stretch of imagination — borrows from cricket but just stops short of roping in a popular willow wielder. 

‘The Bat Doctor’ film launched exclusively online has a simple message: A good partnership can give you the competitive edge.

Ram Bhandari, a celebrity bat doctor from Bengaluru, is the protagonist of the ad. Bhandari has manufactured bats for cricketers such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, to name a few. Just as the cricketers’ bats are instrumental in their scoring big, strong relationships have the potential to make or break, says the ad. 

Screenshot from the advertisement
With cricket being the most widely followed game in the country, Shell decided to use it as a cue to put its message across. “We were looking at a good analogy that could touch the passion of people and invoke trust and understanding. The focus was solely on 100 per cent customer delight,” said Gareth Flood, cluster marketing manager, Shell Lubricants India. 

Shell’s new digital campaign, ‘Power of partnerships’, takes forward the thought put across last year in its first global brand positioning campaign, ‘Together anything is possible’, which, says the company, led to a 28 per cent in its revenue in the Indian market in the first quarter (January to March 2018). While the first campaign introduced the concept of reducing the total cost of a machine's ownership, the new campaign aims to help companies overcome future challenges by demonstrating the significance of powerful collaborations.

Why launch a new campaign within a year of ‘Together anything is possible’? Mansi Tripathy, country head of Shell Lubricants, India Cluster, says, “We wanted to keep the momentum going. We have always worked closely with customers to help improve their equipment maintenance practices. This sharing of expertise will become more valuable as companies navigate the changes that lie ahead.” 

According to Tripathy, Shell has helped companies in India achieve cost savings of close to Rs 570 million with its array of product and service support. While what you see in the two-and-a-half minute film, made by the UK team of Iris Worldwide, is just a message that the company is trying to convey to its B2B customer base, the background to it was a well-researched survey that formed the backbone of this campaign. 

Screenshot from the advertisement
The company undertook a study to understand lubrication practices in the manufacturing and construction sectors in India. The findings revealed that India’s manufacturers were engaged and optimistic about industry 4.0 technologies, with 46 per cent of those surveyed anticipating that the resulting savings could exceed Rs 33 million. 

India’s construction companies, on the other hand, recognised the benefits of a proactive maintenance approach but were not necessarily succeeding in its implementation. About 86 per cent of those surveyed believed that effective equipment maintenance could lead to cost savings, but 82 per cent felt that maintenance was often deprioritised until there was a breakdown. An absence of senior management engagement in advocating the importance of maintenance came across as one barrier to effective preventative action. 

The findings showed that a lack of expertise and under-resourced teams were hindering the widespread uptake of new technologies and effective lubrication practices. There were also concerns about the implications on the total cost of ownership with a majority of the companies surveyed expecting it to increase with the introduction of new technologies. 

Given this, collaboration among players of the ecosystem, Tripathy felt, would be key to unlocking value. “It is an ongoing partnership for us. We look at it from where can add more value,” she says. 

India is the third largest market for lubricants; Shell has a 5 per cent share in the market and expects to take it to 15 per cent over the next five years. The company is looking to increase its advertising and marketing spend by 25 per cent this year compared to last year. The company will release the current campaign globally, customising it according to the market of play. 

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