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Gulf Oil's growing relevance for retailers

A Strong Brand
The brand benefits from an unusual dynamic in new markets: a strong history and recognition mixed with and the freshness of being a new player.

"Of course there's a large historical recognition that exists but there is also the more current awareness that the brand enjoys through recent activity," says Cork. "We very much focus our brand identity around a brand that has great history but also has current and fresh image. In the UK in a study of fuel retail sites, the brand awareness was recorded at over 70%. It's still considerably well-known and with the number of sites in the UK at 360 and increasing, the brand will grow further. Globally there is also a strong network of lubricants distributors, so fuel retailers will benefit from this brand association and leveraging."

That awareness has been helped by a brand growth strategy involving both centrally-planned partnerships and local activity. "Currently there is a sponsorship in place with Aston Martin Racing, which includes the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race. It also covers the World Endurance Championships, which visits nine countries around the world, so there's always the opportunity for local licensees to carry out activity around local races," explains Cork. "The distributors in the UK often use the Silverstone round for marketing activity and there have been cases where licensees have partnered with the race organisers to offer discounted tickets through their stations."

"A lot of local licensees have used races and other sponsorship assets as the basis for sales promotions, such as prize draws based on fuel volumes. So it's a key sponsorship for us, and a tool that is used in many countries to lift sales and volumes," he continues. "This year, one such promotion centred on one of the Gulf sponsored cars racing at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Globally we held a social media competition for a member of the public to design the livery. The winner received two VIP tickets to see their design racing at the Le Mans 24 Hours and a tour of the factory in the UK. That activity gave the brand some excellent coverage and also offered a great opportunity for distributors to run local promotions."

Looking Forward
Looking to the future, Gulf Oil International expects to continue its brand strategy through partnerships with recognised names in motorsports and other sporting activities. "I'm sure we'll look to extend that going forward, and there will be other sponsorships that we will look to, some in motorsport and some in other areas. This will help to offer opportunities for distributors to grow their business further," Cork reveals. Most importantly, however, the company is focused on growing the Gulf brand around the world and reaching new markets in 2014 and beyond. With a model that's attractive to potential partners, and a brand offering global reach with local flexibility, Gulf's exciting growth plans are certainly making big waves in the industry.


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