Crown tries honesty in advertising

MANUFACTURING & INDUSTRY

June 18, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

Crown Central Petroleum Corp., Baltimore's connection to the world of big oil, is trying something in its advertising that its bigger competitors often seem to eschew -- honesty.

In a radio ad campaign that started last month, Crown admits there really isn't much difference between its gas and that of its competitors. All of it gets you from one place to another.

"As much as big oil companies would like to convince you otherwise, their gas won't change your life," says Crown's pitchman, Orioles great Brooks Robinson. "It won't turn your Ford into a Ferrari, or get you from here to Tijuana on a single tank."

In fact, most of the gas for all the oil companies starts out the same because the pipelines that carry it require them to be standardized for shipment, according to Paul J. Ebner, vice president of marketing and support services for Crown. It is only after they reach their destinations that various additives are mixed in.

So why buy gas at Crown? For the pizzas, according to the commercial.

If you get eight fill-ups of eight gallons or more, you can get coupons for two medium cheese pizzas from Little Caesar's. So which would you prefer -- a tiger in your tank or a pizza in your belly?

This is just the most recent of various promotions by the country's 27th-largest oil company. Before this, Crown offered various car services at Merchants Tire & Auto Centers and Jiffy Lube.

In an advertising world in which gasoline -- the stuff that explodes in our cars' engines -- seems to be confused with spring water by calling it "crystal clear," Crown's relatively blunt approach is refreshing.

But honesty isn't Crown's only motivation. One of Crown's main objectives in downplaying the differences, Mr. Ebner said, is to convince consumers that its gasoline is of no lower quality than that offered by big competitors like Exxon and Amoco, which have the advantage of huge advertising budgets.

Dryden Oil to open testing lab in Balto. Co.

In another area of the oil business, Dryden Oil Co. Inc. next week will celebrate the completion of its $1 million, 7,900-square-foot testing laboratory at its headquarters and manufacturing complex at 9300 Pulaski Highway in Baltimore County.

Dryden's name is not familiar to most people who don't have a bulldozer in their back yard. The company, which was founded in Baltimore in 1893, manufactures and sells heavy-duty lubricants for construction companies, quarries, mines, agriculture and industrial plants. The company has 400 workers, of which 180 work at the Pulaski Highway site, said Colin J. Bloodworth, vice president of marketing.

The company is a subsidiary of Castrol North America, the maker of the well-known Castrol motor oil for cars.

The laboratory, which is twice as large as the old testing area, is a vital part of the company's operations, since it regularly tests the lubricants being used by its 4,000 customers to spot problems that might develop, according to Robert Zuccarello, manager of laboratory services for the company. With 150,000 oil samples tested annually, the larger laboratory "gives us tremendous expansion capability in the future," he said.

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