Lubes on the Tube


Lubricant marketers – especially those that peddle passenger car motor oils – frequently complain that the general public knows little about their products. Now the industry has a chance to promote a better understanding of its wares, courtesy of public television.

The Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association said yesterday that it is helping the producer of the public television series Learning About to develop educational programs about lubricants. The association said the program, hosted by movie star Michael Douglas, will give a boost to its members and the industry. An official with production house Paradigm Media Group said the programs will teach viewers about an important category of products that normally receive little attention.

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This is a fascinating subject, but its really been untapped, said Senior Producer Phil Bell, who heads the project. Im amazed that no one ever picked up on it and did [programs] on it.

Based in Boca Raton, Fla., Paradigm claims to be the third-largest independent creator of television content in the United States. The company develops short documentaries, referred to as interstitial because they run between full-length programs that air on public television. (Public television has gaps to fill because it does not run commercials.) Past programs covered topics ranging from milk bottles to genome research.

Paradigm needs lots of subject matter these days; it received orders for 150 of its documentaries for an upcoming season. Bell said the idea of featuring lubricants arose during a recent brainstorming session.

We were talking about some of the most important inventions, and someone mentioned the wheel, Bell said. Someone else said, No, its not the wheel but the hole in the wheel, and of course, that led to grease and lubricants.

Bell said Paradigm will probably film 12 programs on lubricants, each lasting up to five minutes. The company is consulting with ILMA on possible topics, and Bell said they already have a number of ideas. Topping the list is an explanation of the industrys most prominent consumer symbols, the American Petroleum Institutes donut and starburst trademarks.

The former is licensed to engine oils certified as meeting the latest industry standard, while the latter identifies those that also meet fuel economy requirements set by the auto industry. The symbols are widely used on engine oil labels, but marketers have long lamented that consumers do not understand them.

But Paradigm does not plan to limit itself to the industrys automotive segment.

Look at the cutting oils that are used to make something like a screw, Bell said. Thats really interesting stuff. We could also get into things like mining [lubricants], hydraulics, coolants, the difference between synthetic and semi-synthetic base oils, environmental impacts.

The programs will begin airing on the nations 349 public television stations later this year. Paradigm also places abbreviated versions of its programs in prime time spots on CNN and Voice of America Worldnet, giving them exposure to millions more viewers.

Besides helping to identify topics, ILMA said it will review scripts and provide on-screen interviews. It added that member companies will probably serve as technical experts and that parts of some shows may be filmed at member sites.

I’m very excited by the prospect of this television series for ILMA and all of its members, ILMA President Jim Taglia, of Nor-Lakes Services Midwest, said in yesterdays issue of the associations online newsletter, Flashpoint. One of the strategies in ILMA’s Strategic Plan is to move the ILMA brand to not only ILMA member company customers but also the general public. These segments will highlight a number of lubricant topics to the general consumer, as well as educate them on many important facets of lubrication – and the right lubricants in our day-to-day lives.

The association invited members interested in participating to contact Carla Mangone by phone at (703) 684-5574 or by e-mail at Bell invited those with suggestions for program topics to e-mail them to

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