The Ultimate Product Demo

Remember when ads for petrol were a common sight on our TV screens? Esso’s Tiger? Reassurances that we could be sure of Shell? What with global warming and dodgy goings-on in the Third World, oil companies have been maintaining something of a lower profile of late, but a new BP campaign from Ogilvy London puts fuel back on the agenda.

The spots are for Ultimate, a premium petrol which BP claims will reduce emissions, give more miles per gallon and better performance. “As a creative person, you hope that any product you are going to have to sell is going to have a genuine point of difference,” says Ogilvy London creative partner Neil Dawson. “For me the most compelling environmental fact is that if everyone in the UK used Ultimate, the reduction in emissions would be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road. The difficulty was how to present this to the public in a way that would be believable.”

Inspired by the BBC motoring show, Top Gear, Dawson decided that the best way to promote the product was via the good, old-fashioned product demonstration, but with an entertaining twist.

“In Top Gear, they set up tests that are factual, truthful and also a bit mad,” says Dawson. “We decided this type of test would be perfect as we felt we needed to ‘bring the science to life’ in order to convince people of the benefits of Ultimate. We went back to the classic ‘side by side test’. But with a difference.”

To demonstrate BP’s claim that the petrol gives cars seven per cent extra power, Ogilvy decided to stage a car sumo contest (shot in Brazil, of course). One car (using Ultimate petrol) pushes the other car out of a ring. The twist is that the ring is 20 metres up on a podium in the middle of a harbour.

To demonstrate better fuel economy, two identical cars were put on a rolling road in front of a giant car crusher. The car using ordinary petrol runs out of fuel first and meets its maker in the teeth of the crusher.

The spots were directed by Johnny Maginn at Bikini Films. Copywriters: Robert Cervera and Jon Morgan. Art directors: Mike Watson and Neil Dawson. Production co: Bikini Films.


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