Gulf Oil Lubricants India Ltd (GOLIL), is part of the Hinduja Group, and an established player in the Indian Lubricants Industry. Gulf Oil International (GOI), the parent of GOLIL, owns the Gulf brand globally (except USA, Spain, and Portugal). Previously a part of Gulf Oil Corporation Limited today, GOLIL as part of the parent company GOI, enjoys a presence in over 100 countries. The company has a pan India distribution network with more than 70,000 retail touch points. The brand is working towards being future-ready to offer additional mobility solutions and has recently tied up with Indra Technologies- UK based charger/mobility company to drive the change.
Gulf Oil India has completed 10 years of partnership with IPL team CSK in 2020, making it the longest for any sponsor-franchise association in the history of IPL. To commemorate the occasion, Gulf Oil has unveiled a 10th anniversary jersey as well. Gulf Oil India started its IPL journey 11 years ago with team KXIP and then moved to be partnered with CSK in 2011 as its Associate Sponsors, the same year it also signed M S Dhoni as the company’s brand ambassador.
Ravi Chawla – CEO & MD spoke exclusively to Medianews4U on the 11 year long association with CSK and Amit Gheji, Head Marketing at Gulf Oil spoke on the marketing initiatives by Gulf Oil and much more
It’s been 11 long years of association between Gulf Oil & CSK, how has the journey been?
Gulf Oil started its journey with the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a successful association with Kings XI Punjab from 2008. In 2011, this morphed into a new, energetic partnership between Gulf Oil and Chennai Super Kings. This decade long collaboration with Gulf Oil cemented the growth chart of the organisation through the right visibility and building an aspiration value in the lubricant space. The association further evolved by christening CSK Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, as Gulf Oil’s brand ambassador. This resulted in exponential growth and return on investment.
Gulf Oil is globally known for its sports partnership with brands like McLaren, Moto GP and more. In India, we wanted to associate with a sport that was widely recognised and could connect with the brand ethos. IPL, KXIP, CSK, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Hardik Pandya helped move the brand needle for Gulf Oil and we continue to hold a significant value in the cricketing world.
What made the Gulf Oil zone in on CSK, eleven years ago?
We always wanted to strategically connect with the youth and direct connect with our customers. Cricket being the most loved sport of the country; it ticked both our aim of connecting with our target audience. More than the property, it was the love and enthusiasm for the format and the cricket that made IPL our most obvious choice.
Gulf Oil was approached by CSK and the common culture of the team ‘passion to move forward’ resonated with the brand. CSK and Gulf Oil fit perfectly in the jigsaw puzzle and the association continues to go on for eleven years.
What kind of ROI has this association delivered for Gulf Oil?
Like most brands, IPL is a significant investment; Gulf Oil’s partnership with the league has been extremely beneficial for the brand. The investments made by the organisation in IPL, CSK, and MS Dhoni have delivered an ROI that is the highest in the industry. Examining the KPIs such as brand performance and growth, increased engagement, and social mentions can help assess the ROI – and Gulf Oil noted an augmented growth in the same. One great example is that in 2007, Gulf Oil was positioned sixth in the lubricant sector, with innovative solutions disrupting the market, customer-centric initiatives and focused investments in partnerships, which has helped the organisation to rise to the number two position.
Our IPL association has provided the brand with a great platform to connect with the larger audience, over the years we have invested in the property materially and emotionally. The returns have been phenomenal, though the last year due to covid impact has taken a hit, as the fans have returned to the stadium to support their teams, Gulf Oil hopes to catch more traction this year, further strengthening its reputation.
Automobiles & affiliated products have always had an affinity to associate with sports. How has the association created a connect with the consumers for Gulf Oil and tap into unexplored territory?
Lubricants as a segment that does not enjoy a high degree of emotional affinity with customers as they are considered more low engagement product. On the contrary, the automobile sector tends to partner with brands that exhibit drive, adrenaline rush, high decibel engagement that can bring an emotional connection with the brand.
Passion has been one of the key pillars of our existence, and we couldn’t find a better way to express this emotion, IPL delivered the passion for cricket which connected with our ethos. This has definitely developed a strong connect with consumers since our first announcement with KXIP. Today, the brand enjoys the leadership positioning as we grew in mindshare and market share over the years. Moreover, our associations with KXIP and CSK has helped grow the business considerably across the country and not limited to northern or southern India.
What has been the YoY growth for Gulf Oil?
With a presence in more than 100 countries across five continents, Gulf Oil has been a brand with a consistent YoY growth path delivering 2-3X times the industry standard. Gulf Oil holds a strong brand recall built through association with brand ambassadors, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, and Chennai Super Kings coupled with global sporting partnerships like McLaren and more.
Other than business growth, the brand has seen significant growth in consumer mind measures like Sport Awareness and Consideration (to purchase/try) to the tune of 25% in a shot span.
Market shares in key segments like Motorcycle engine oil (MCO) and Commercial vehicle oil (CVO) went up and now the association is also working its magic on other segments like Passenger car motor oil (PCMO).
Gulf Oil is also associated with MS Dhoni, how has that association been and how has it delivered for the brand?
MS Dhoni goes beyond just being an association for Gulf Oil; he is an essential member of the organisation. Having Dhoni back our initiatives and strategies have worked tremendously well, especially with any communication or campaign that we plan. The traction and impressions achieved have been exponentially multiplied with Dhoni at the helm of things. Moreover, we have observed remarkably higher trial rates from people who liked the product and are also fans of the inspirational sportsman.
To reemphasis Dhoni served as the CEO of Gulf Oil Lubricants India for a day, and during the day he attended multiple meetings and contributed with some significant ideas. As an avid biker, he is passionate about the upkeep of his machines and that brings in a new perspective. These inputs make him the guiding light of the organisation.