Car Stunt and Weibo: Recipe for Success


In an engine oil market like China, where many consumers prefer to care for their cars with famous brands like Shells Helix and Greatwall from Sinopec, there is little room for small, local brands. But Nanjing-based Lopal Tech made a place for itself through innovative marketing.

The 10-year old company – which mainly produces engine oils for passenger cars, motorcycles and diesel trucks – reported about CNY1 billion ($160.3 million) in sales in 2013, up 50 percent year over year. Shi Junfeng, Lopal founder and general manager, attributed it partly to the companys innovation in marketing strategy, something that Chinese private lube companies usually neglect.

Profit-based innovation, whether in product development or marketing, rather than waging a price war, is essential for us being competitive in the market, he said at the CBI China Lubricant Market Focus conference in Beijing last month.

A recent example is the campaign Lopal sponsored in January to promote its newly launched semi-synthetic series, priced at CNY379 for 4 liters of 10W-40 and CNY389 for 5W-30, only slightly lower than multinational brands.

A stunt driver, a student of the famous late Taiwanese athlete and film director He Shouliang, jumped across the Amur River in a car painted with Lopals name and filled with the companys new oil. The event took place in Heihe city, a Heilongjiang province. Heihe is located at the Sino-Russian border and known for its bitterly cold winter. The temperature dropped to a decade low of minus 41.2 degrees C on the day of the leap, which set a Guinness record by 64.3 meters.

The stunt was covered by major Chinese TV stations such as CCTV, news operations like Xinhua, portal websites such as Sina and Sohu, as well as video websites including Youku. Lopals name appeared throughout, as it was the campaigns exclusive sponsor.

The campaign not only perfectly shows the quality of our lube in extremely cold weather, but also broadcasts our name in a multilevel way, Shi said, adding that, as a medium-sized local company, investing heavily in television advertising is not practical.

Lopal also broadcast the event at popular social media platforms such as Weibo and Weichat to reach the fast-growing audience of smartphone users.

Last September, media research firm Nielsen reported smartphone ownership in China reached 71 percent, suggesting companies would benefit from using e-commerce and new media marketing strategies to approach younger consumers.

At the conference, Shi said media-savvy foreign companies are the perfect teachers for Chinese companies when it comes to new media marketing strategies.

All we need to do is learn from them, and localize the strategy to benefit our own business in China, he said.

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