Looking to gain a point of differentiation in a category that has historically focused on endorsement deals with professional athletes, Shell Oil Co. has struck a multi-faceted partnership with country musician and actor Tim McGraw on behalf of its Pennzoil motor oil brand.

Pennzoil is leveraging the tie with a 360-degree marketing program in support of its new Long Love Cars campaign. The campaign, which launched March 1st, includes traditional and digital media, tour sponsorship and retail promotions.

The crux of the campaign: connecting with consumers through their love of music, driving and freedom.

“When looking at the competitive landscape last year, we wanted to figure out a way to gain a point of differentiation by creating a deeper, more emotional connection with consumers,” said Aimee Cronfel, Pennzoil’s public relations and media planning manager.

As a result, Cronfel asked MediaCom and the media buying agency’s Entertainment and Sports Partnership division to develop a marketing platform that supports Long Love Cars’ creative thematic. MediaCom is Shell’s global media buying agency.

“From a media and sponsorship perspective, music is open territory to get our message out in a compelling way,” said Morgan Buksbaum, vice president of MediaCom’s Entertainment and Sports Partnership division.

(IEG SR publisher IEG, LLC, Mediacom and ESP are all GroupM businesses, part of the media investment management operation of WPP Group plc.)

Pennzoil picked McGraw due to his authenticity, love of cars and broad audience. 

“An authentic relationship is critical between any artist and brand. Pennzoil is an all-American brand that resonates with what Tim is all about,” said Kevin Gelbard with Creative Artists Agency, which sold the deal.

In addition to promoting McGraw through the media campaign, Pennzoil is supporting the partnership through a number of ancillary programs.

Below, some key components to the campaign:

Tour sponsorship. As part of the partnership, Pennzoil will sponsor the upcoming “Brothers of the Sun” concert tour. The 23-city tour kicks off in June and will be co-headlined by Kenny Chesney.

Pennzoil will activate the tour with an on-site experiential area and a pre-show video that highlights the McGraw partnership and a call to action, said Buksbaum.

Off-site, Pennzoil will run a sweeps at O’Reilly Automotive, Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. dangling tickets to a pre-show acoustic performance by McGraw.  The backstage VIP performances will be branded the Pennzoil Tune Up Series.

Pennzoil also will run trade promotions with select Jiffy Lube Int’l, Inc. and Chrysler dealerships, said Cronfel.

Exclusive content. Pennzoil will post behind-the-scenes videos from the concert tour and other exclusive content on the brand’s Facebook, Twitter and Youtube pages. Consumers must “like” the brand to access the content. 

“The content will come to life through owned and paid media,” said Buksbaum.

Cause overlay. Pennzoil is activation the program through a partnership with Paralyzed Veterans of America. The brand is supporting the nonprofit with a two-year, $100,000 commitment to Mission: ABLE, a program that retrofits vehicles for disabled veterans.    

Online and media promotions.  To gain additional reach among music fans, Pennzoil is leveraging the Long Love Cars campaign with promotions with Rolling Stone and music web site Pandora.com.

Pennzoil and Rolling Stone later this month will kick off the “Ultimate Pennzoil Roadie” promotion dangling the chance for a winner and a guest to go on tour with McGraw. The winner will blog about the experience in Rolling Stone and the publication’s Web site.  

Pennzoil also will sponsor a Rolling Stone concert-finder app this summer. The brand will be the app’s exclusive sponsor for three months.

The motor oil brand will leverage its partnership with www.Pandora.com  with a branded music channel. The channel will feature songs by McGraw and other artists.   

NASCAR support. Pennzoil will leverage its Penske Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program to support the Long Love Cars campaign. McGraw will attend the May 19 Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and participate in interviews with driver AJ Allmendinger, said Cronfel.

“Nothing goes better together than NASCAR and country music.”