Quaker State Finds No Takers


Quaker States invitation to the Castrol, Valvoline and Mobil 1 brands to participate in a motor oil challenge to decide whose synthetic motor oil has better wear protection found no takers, as ExxonMobil and BP Lubricants did not reply and Valvoline questioned the adequacy of one-time testing.

In a full-page ad in USA Today March 20, Quaker State invited Castrol, Valvoline and Mobil 1 to the challenge, a one-time Sequence IVA engine test to determine which brands synthetic motor oil provides better wear protection. The deadline to reply was Friday, March 27. For details on the challenge, see last weeks Lube Report article.

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We dont respond to marketing tactics, ExxonMobil spokeswoman Kristen Hellmer told Lube Report yesterday.

We believe our customers – not competitors – are the ultimate judge of our products,a spokesmanat BP Lubricants, owner of the Castrol brand, told Lube Report. Thats why were proud of our industry-leading position at the forefront of the synthetic motor oil market. Beyond this, we have no intention of participating in this marketing stunt.”

Valvoline sent a reply to Quaker State on Thursday, declining to participate in the testing as proposed. With regard to the so-called challenge, because we support statistically significant evaluation, we question the adequacy of the one-time Sequence IVA test method that was proposed, Valvoline said in a statement provided to Lube Report. We advocate that any use of test results follows statistically significant evaluation in order to avoid misleading consumers.”

Valvoline said it continuously tests its products against leading competitors. Numerous in-house and independent third-party test results over time led to our statistically significant superiority claim for our Valvoline SynPower full synthetic motor oil versus Mobil 1. These good science test results are published and currently available in the public domain for anyone to review.

We sent a letter back to Valvoline acknowledging receipt of their letter, and addressing the fact that yes, indeed, the API-ILSAC test protocol for ASTM Sequence IVA requires only one test run and that the statistics at 95 percent confidence level do in fact hold up very well under one test pass per product, said Troy Chapman, marketing team leader for Pennzoil/Quaker State brands, which are part of Shells SOPUS Products business in Houston. We did look at Valvolines results, and their results did indeed affirm the fact Quaker State is unsurpassed in wear protection via the Sequence IVA test.

Chapman emphasized Quaker State challenged Mobil 1, Valvoline and Castrol specifically – and not motor oils from other competitors – because of the wear protection claims Valvoline and Castrol had made in advertising and because they cited Mobil 1 in their comparisons. By no means were we casting a net over the entire industry necessarily, he told Lube Report. We chose the three brands we did deliberately because those were the ones that were causing confusion in the minds of the consumer and customer.

Chapman disagreed with the characterization by some of the motor oil challenge as a marketing stunt or tactic. In no way was this intended as a marketing stunt, he emphasized. Its a serious challenge, one we issued with every intention of going to test. Some of the companies calling this a stunt are the same companies spending millions of dollars to tell people how many times better they are than other competitors. Why would you be willing to do that, and yet you wouldnt be willing to take us up on a test in order to substantiate it, validate it or put an end to the question of how well you do versus the other competitors?

To mark the end of the wear war, Quaker State said it plans to reintroduce its Q HorsePower motor oil – the line that would have participated in the challenge – as Quaker State Ultimate Durability full synthetic motor oil. Weve begun the transition as of this week, Chapman said yesterday. Its just a matter of us getting it through production cycles, and into the inventory systems of our customers, so people should start seeing that within the next few weeks.

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