Fram Preps ‘Smear’ Campaign

Auto filter provider Fram will launch a nationwide TV campaign in April to bring the brand, rather than specific products, to the fore.

The lighthearted effort will portray grease spots as badges of honor among car-savvy men and try to forge a bond between the company and its mainly male target audience.

Four 15-second spots crafted by Arnold Worldwide, Boston, show husbands leaving grease stains on sandwiches, counters and sinks after changing their car’s oil filter.

The tagline is, “Nothing feels better than a job well done, and nothing helps you do the job better than Fram.”

Jim Brown, director of marketing at Fram, a Danbury, Conn.-based unit of Honeywell, said the company wants to distance itself from past efforts, which featured an outspoken auto parts salesman who talked about the Fram advantage for specific products.

“Our ads last year were a little smug, and got away from our core market a bit,” Brown said. That effort included numerous spots in which the salesman stridently plugged Fram filters, sometimes berating customers for considering other products.

For the new campaign, client and agency strove for a different tone. “This year we are trying to reconnect with our core customer, the do-it-yourselfer,” Brown said.

The target demographic consists largely of males aged 25-54, according to Brown. Placement includes World Wrestling Federation broadcasts, ESPN2’s National Hot Rod Association drag racing, Fox Network NASCAR coverage, XFL, and Major League Baseball.

Fram’s overall marketing budget this year is $6-8 million, in line with 2000, in which Fram spent $5.4 million during the 10 months ending Oct. 31. In 1999, the company spent $6.8 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Brown said about 90 percent of this year’s media budget will be put behind Arnold’s “smudge” campaign.

Fram in early February also reached a multiyear agreement to become the official filter of the NHRA.

Fram has signed on to sponsor the “Fram Instant Replay of the Week,” on ESPN2’s Thursday night NHRA drag racing program. The replays will be shown on 24 NHRA Heat telecasts.