Crown Has A New Image In ‘Carl’

RM&D Develops Ultimate At-Your-Service Gas Station Attendant
WASHINGTON, D.C.–For Crown Central Petroleum’s first TV effort in five years, Richardson, Myers & Donofrio (RM&D) of Baltimore has created a series of humorous faux testimonials that depict the obsessive, high-end service of Carl, an overeager gas station attendant.
Crown, a Baltimore-based refiner and marketer of gasoline and convenience store products, is test marketing three spots in Virginia before adding other markets. The budget is undisclosed. More spots will break in Georgia later this year and next, said client senior vice president of advertising Frank Rosenberg.
The campaign is a significant departure for Crown, which until recently has emphasized the nuts and bolts of pricing and service through radio advertising.
“We’ve re-imaged the external and internal look of our units in Virginia,” said Rosenberg. “We are going to re-image other markets later in the year–from earth tones to brighter primary colors. We wanted to change our image because there is this idea that all gas stations are alike. We want you to have a fun experience and a good time when you come to Crown.”
The “I Had A Dream (Mint)” spot features the omnipresent attendant–whose wholesome appeal resembles that of actor Ron Howard in his 20s–as a tad overzealous, turning windshield wiping into high art. His earnestness borders on the bizarre as he runs after cars with an after-dinner mint. “The mint was my idea,” he states proudly in the grainy, jumpy, docudrama-style spot.
Participating stations will offer customers mints as a tie-in to the campaign.
“We set out to do one spot,” said RM&D president Chuck Donofrio. “We didn’t know where it was going to go. All we knew is that we had this fanatic named Carl.”
Donofrio acknowledged that the commercials might be a bit risky, but he added: “We made sure that people internally [at Crown] were totally on board. It speaks as much to the inside as the outside. Employees are not going to be like Carl, but we want them to think about the service they bring to the customer.”