Jiffy Lube Aims for Heroics With Debut of ‘J-Team’

Jiffy Lube, attempting to increase its lead in the quick-service arena against encroachment from Wal-Mart and others, emphasizes customer service in a campaign that breaks Thursday.

The work, from McCarthy Mambro Bertino in Boston, positions Jiffy Lube employees as members of a quasiheroic “J-Team,” a play on the ’80s A-Team TV series.

“The J-Team is a cross between the Navy SEALs and the A-team, ” said Fred Bertino, shop president and co-creative director, who noted that each team member has a name that begins with “J” (Jack, Joe, Julie and J.J.), and each has a back story.

“Even though Jiffy Lube’s awareness is high, everyone perceived all quick-lube places as the same, so we needed to find a silver bullet to help us differentiate Jiffy Lube and drive preference,” said Bertino.

In the new work, Jiffy Lube workers personify “the well-oiled machine” positioning that MMB introduced for the client in 2001, said Anne Tawney, client svp of marketing. Three 30-second TV spots and a number of print and radio ads retain that theme.

One commercial shows the J-Team strutting in slow motion against a funky soundtrack. “When it comes to taking care of your car, one person isn’t enough. That’s why at Jiffy Lube, we give you the team. The J-Team,” a voiceover says.

Another spot shows three sports fans pulling up in their vehicle, dubbed the “Bearmobile” after their favored team, for service. A voiceover assures them that the Jiffy Lube team can keep the car running for many seasons. The execution ends with the mascot from a rival team jumping out of the trunk and yelling, “Bears stink,” precipitating a chase.

Spots premiere during CBS coverage of the NCAA tournament. They will air for 15 weeks on cable networks such as Lifetime, A&E, E! Entertainment Television, The History Channel and TNT. Radio spots begin airing in May. Publicis Groupe media unit Starlink, Chicago, handles media buying.

Previous ads from MMB focused on consumers and how they could care for their vehicles, even if they knew nothing about them, by regularly going to Jiffy Lube.

MMB’s last campaign included an execution that showed a couple in their driveway, the man trying unsuccessfully to pop open their car’s hood. At the end, he triumphantly yells, “Got it!” Unfortunately, he has popped the gas cap instead of the hood.

Barbara Tinsley, associate publisher of National Oil and Lube News in Lubbock, Texas, said Jiffy Lube’s greater emphasis on service is wise. “That [strategy] absolutely makes sense. That’s what our industry is all about. That’s where our success lies. Mass merchandisers tend to have more difficulty with that,” she said.

Jiffy Lube is No. 1 in the lube and oil-change category, according to Fahnestock & Co., New York. Total 2001 sales were $1.3 billion. The Houston-based chain’s competitors include ChevronTexaco, Precision Auto and Wal-Mart.

Jiffy Lube spends $15-20 million annually on ads, according to CMR. It maintains more than 2,000 locations in North America.