Jobbers World News
March 31, 2009

  • Is Quaker State Confident or Crazy?
  • Contact Us With Your News

  • Is Quaker State Confident or Crazy?

    Today Quaker State published a press release announcing "QUAKER STATE GOES UNCHALLENGED AND UNSURPASSED IN WEAR PROTECTION."

    This release is a follow-up to last week's full-page advertisement in USA Today where Quaker State said "HEY CASTROL, VALVOLINE & MOBIL 1: IF YOU CAN PROTECT AGAINST WEAR BETTER, PROVE IT." See JobbersWorld.com link below

    The "headline" in the ad was followed by a letter from Steve Harman, President, Americas delivered to the executives responsible for Mobil 1, Valvoline and Castrol. In short, the challenge said, "Today, we hereby pledge to bring clarity to this "Wear War," by making public the scientific data that illustrates for consumers the actual wear rating of each brand's full synthetic motor oil. " if you really believe your product can protect against wear the best, here is your opportunity to prove it."

    And if that was not enough to get attention, the ad said, "To facilitate this, Quaker State now officially challenges your brands in the Sequence IVA test. We'll even pay for it." Quaker State gave those challenged until Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. EST to respond

    Hmmm- from the sound of that, it looks like Quaker State must be either courageous, confident or crazy to take on three big boys in the business, and on their dime.

    Well maybe they are none of the above - maybe Quaker State is just crafty. But where they might be crafty enough to score some points with the general public, their own words explain why they are not crafty enough to draw the three leading suppliers of engine oil into a public show about superior performance in the Sequence IVA wear test .

    In an interview two weeks ago with Selda Gunsel, Manager, Lubricants Technology Group, Shell Global Solutions (US) Inc., Gunsel told JobbersWorld "Although Pennzoil Platinum performs exceedingly well in the Sequence IVA wear test, the battle of the "Xs" comparing oil against oil rather than oil against spec is one we are staying out of." And Gunsel says, the reason they are staying out is because it's "bad science" and could be misleading.

    Ironically, the "bad science" argument seems to be the very argument Quaker State publicly challenged Valvoline, Castrol and Mobil 1 to engage in.

    To understand what Gunsel means by "bad science," and the irony of the challenge, starts with an understanding of the Sequence IVA wear test.

    The Sequence IVA is an engine test designed to evaluate the performance of engine oils in preventing camshaft lobe wear in an overhead camshaft engine. It's a pass/fail 100-hour test of 100 hourly cycles. When completed, each of the 12 cam lobes in the test engine is measured for wear at 7 points. An average is calculated based on the total wear from the 12 cam lobes. In short, test results with a higher number means higher wear. For an engine oil to qualify for API SM/ ILSAC GF-4 rating it must pass the Sequence IVA with an average wear of 90 micron maximum. However, according to Gunsel, "there is no statistically significant difference for test results within 35 microns of each other." Troy Chapman, Marketing Management Team Leader Pennzoil Brands with Shell, agrees that low results in this test moves the comparison into an area where differences are "statistically indistinguishable."

    With both Valvoline and Castrol Edge publicly claiming their synthetics score 10-20 microns in the Sequence IVA, one has to wonder what the Quaker State challenge was all about? After all neither Valvoline or Castrol made claims their oils were better than Quaker State in Sequence IVA wear protection; their comparisons were made against Mobil 1. Why didn't they also challenge Quaker State? Maybe because it's bad science.

    So why did Quaker State publicly join this fray - is it courageous, crafty or crazy for Quaker State to publicly challenge their competitors on wear protection? Maybe they joined because it was safe! So long as their wear result was within 35 microns of the other oils, the results are "statistically indistinguishable", allowing them to state "no other oil provides better wear protection". The challenge makes them look courageous and confident, but it was actually a safe bet and allowed them to get free mileage off the ad campaigns of Valvoline and Castrol. Sounds more like crafty marketing than science to me - certainly not "good science".

    Contact Us With Your News

    JobbersWorld is all about issues impacting lubricant distributors. You are our primary audience and you are the ones we need to hear from. What's on your mind? What issues would you like to see us tackle? And what news would you like others to know about?

    • News
    • Mergers and acquisitions
    • Promotions
    • New products
    • Classified

    We reach out to nearly 10,000 participants in the lubricant distribution supply chain once or twice a week (depending on what's NEWS) and we tell it like it is.

    Please contact us via e-mail at tom_glenn@jobbersworld.com, or direct at 732-494-0405.

    Thank you


    Join our mailing list!

    Email Marketing by