Shell asked Synecticsworld to help them create penetrating insights into the needs and motivations of the car enthusiast to inspire creation of an ownable, timeless, and differentiated brand positioning for Pennzoil Motor Oil–all in three weeks.


Given the importance of the task and the compressed time line, the Synecticsworld creative catalysts knew that the first step in the process was critical. They assembled a group of consumers, gave them drawing materials, and allowed car owners to create a graphical or visual profile of the lifecycle of their favorite car. Also, the participants were prompted to show on paper their feelings about how the car had changed, what aspects of the car were in or out of balance, and provide a visual representation of when their car “feels best.”

The drawings and feedback comments used words like “renewing” and “invigorating” when describing car care and the oil change experience supplied Pennzoil with fresh new insights into the lifecycle of car ownership and the consumer’s relationship with their car.

Synectics then organized six three-hour labs that brought together target consumers and a team from Shell. Each of the labs began with open creative exploration with custom-designed creative exercises, including storytelling about car care experiences and a life-line which graphed the longitudinal attitude toward car ownership and car care.

Using the insights gained from those labs, Synectics led the core team through a workshop that helped them synthesize key elements into powerful and driving “insight stories.”  The Positioning Invention Session that followed that workshop was essential for not only incorporating the learned insights into the new positioning but helped the team develop a single-minded recommended positioning statement.


In three weeks, the team had an action plan,clarity and common understanding around learning, milestones and the next steps.

 “This totally revolutionized our thinking. We are going to share this approach as a best practice,” said one of Pennzoil’s global brand executives.


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