The WARC Awards for MENA Strategy celebrate the smartest thinking in the region. In this deep dive behind the gold-winning campaign for Castrol, Fabio Medeiros, Head of Strategy MENA at VMLY&R explains how a human-centred solution delivered both societal impact for mechanics and business impact for the brand.

The hardest of challenges shouldn’t be feared, but appreciated. A good challenge pushes us to think, re-think and doubt ourselves every step of the way. But in the end, it's what leads us to breakthroughs and innovative ideas. Relevant and impactful solutions that truly resonate and drive real impact. At both business and human levels.

Growth begins from our people

Let’s talk about a recent story with Castrol and its main people in the UAE: mechanics.

Mechanics are key in helping society move and Castrol’s growth. They keep our commutes safe, rescuing us from emergencies. They are also Castrol’s frontliners, the true advocates empowering its sales and relationships with customers.

However, despite all that, they felt unappreciated and looked down upon from both society and their employers. Their efforts, dedication and commitment often end up being taken for granted. Leading to a lack of motivation to perform beyond the basic requirements of the job. To top it all up, their sense of pride seems to simply not be there.

Castrol believes that mechanics deserve better, and this invisibility should be no more. After all, they are the face and heart of the business, the gatekeepers of Castrol’s relationship with consumers, and their love, motivation & loyalty directly translates to sales.

People and business, not people or business.

Recognizing the importance of fostering strong relationships with its partner-mechanics, Castrol needed to ensure the brand continued to find ways to nurture love, respect and loyalty, whilst minimizing the risks of its brand and mechanics underperforming.

Castrol tracks and encourages its mechanics to engage with its internal loyalty ZOOM app. Problem was that new sign-ups had plateaued and retention of existing users wasn’t optimal.

So, Castrol needed to find a way to get these mechanics and independent workshops to feel appreciated and empowered if it wanted them to become its loyal ambassadors. All that should work while driving more mechanic acquisition and engagement on the ZOOM app where all the conversations take place.

Behaviour and self-worth as the way in

The challenge started in understanding what truly mattered for mechanics. And by combining internal data/research from Castrol and market visits, it became clear that finding a way to their hearts and elevating their self-esteem would be the right human approach improve mechanics’ self-worth whilst also incentivizing engagement and loyalty.  

Castrol learnt that whether its on or offline, there has always been a sense of community amongst UAE’s mechanics, especially as most are immigrants from developing countries. This meant that mechanics were oftentimes found on their phones sharing stories, opinions, and content with both their peers and their loved ones back home.

Interestingly, Castrol found that amongst the many things they shared, one aspect of their lives they rarely brought up, were stories around work-related achievements, reflecting lack of pride. This derived from an overall feeling of unfulfillment, as even though they do one of the most demanding and crucial jobs in society, they remained invisible. Ultimately this diminished their willingness to recommend the brand.

Elevating mechanics from being perceived as ‘zeros’ to heroes with Portraits of Glory

Castrol believes mechanics should be as proud of their contributions, as Castrol is of them. As a result, the brand sought to find a way to elevate mechanics “status” to bring ambition and pride back to both their everyday and their relationship with Castrol.

To do so, Castrol created an “Employee of the Month” initiative unlike any other. A recognition aimed at elevating a small bureaucratic accolade to celebratory status, a means of ensuring the efforts of our champions will no longer be ignored by brands, peers, and mechanic/workshop communities nation-wide.

The idea was simple yet powerful. Castrol placed high performance mechanics (based on their engagement with our ZOOM app) in UAE’s biggest stage: The Dubai Frame. The brand honored them in style, co-creating a photoshoot with a renowned photographer putting the spotlight on mechanics, treating them like royalty and providing them with the chance to proudly show their recognition by the brand to their peers and loved ones back home in style.

Purposeful fame. Real results.

To build hype, Castrol teased across social media platforms with an invite for people in the UAE to experience the Dubai frame like never before through “The Portraits of Glory”.

On January 14, 2022, Castrol invited automotive and lifestyle influencers to our experience. Not knowing what to expect, each influencer scanned a QR code, pointed their cameras at the Dubai. From that moment on, the influencers who had been carefully chosen helped spreading the word…and with that came the results.

Portraits of Glory was able to bring a sense of pride back into these mechanics’ everyday lives as the fruits of their contributions would now be recognized by brands, their peers, and others in a very big and gratifying way.

Castrol was able to position itself as one of the best brands for independent workshops and mechanics to partner with. As a result, the initiative was able to successfully achieve its KPIs across different levels; increased the ZOOM app based by 125%, added over 150 new partner workshops to its network, and lastly, saw a 16% overall growth in sales vs SPLY.

Portraits of Glory has proved that committing to people, fostering love, loyalty and respect can drive actual growth in sales and build sustainable relationships.

For more read the full case study: Castrol’s Portraits of Glory.