JWT Discusses Pennzoil Ad Featuring Ferrari 488 GTB

Pennzoil and JWT are off to the races in this new ad campaign highlighting Ferrari engineering.

by Jamel D. Nelson , AdForum

Jeremy Jones, Executive Creative Director at JWT Atlanta, was nice enough to sit down with AdForum’s Jamel D. Nelson at a recent event in upper Manhattan showcasing the agency’s “JOYRIDE Circuit” ad featuring iconic oil brand Pennzoil – a campaign that also stars every car enthusiasts dream vehicle: the Ferrari 488 GTB. Enjoy.


AdForum: What creative inspiration led to this ad campaign?

Jones: The basis of this film idea was to tell a longer story – to hold people's attention longer. So we developed a plot that commences with a group of joy riders. Think Gone in Sixty Seconds meets Fight Club, where we have this underground group of car enthusiasts who are in constant pursuit of the ultimate experience in automotive performance. They make it their mission to find these hidden Pennzoil test cars anywhere on the planet. And then the viewer is along for the ride. The viewer is with them in this amazing car, pushing its extreme engineering to the limits.

AdForum: How did JWT decided on using the turbocharged 8-cyliner Ferrari 488 GTB?

Jones: Last year we used the Dodge Hellcat, which was a bit more accessible for people to relate to and drive. But this year we really wanted to push the limits. We wanted to test the barriers of performance. We wanted to reach the pinnacle of performance. So Ferrari was the natural choice. Sure, a Ferrari is a two-hundred-eighty-thousand-dollars-plus car, but we thought that people would enjoy seeing a Ferrari driven in a way no one's ever seen it driven before. With this Pennzoil campaign there were no limitations when it came to showcasing performance. In a typical car ad you can’t drive faster than forty miles an hour because you have to shoot certain lines. We made an extraordinary effort to showcase the motor oil and the concept of performance. We really pushed the car to its limits. We took the idea as far as we could.

Also, we chose Ferrari for a reason. Pennzoil typically doesn’t produce a lot of content, but we have a very understated yet productive relationship with Ferrari. For example, we have F1 in Texas and other events. But we selected Ferrari for an obvious reason; they're the pinnacle of performance, engineering, and style. If Ferrari can trust Pennzoil, so can everyone else. Pennzoil is owned by Shell, and Shell and Ferrari have a sixty-plus year relationship. Pennzoil is the factory oil fill for Ferrari in North America. Every Ferrari road car that comes off the line is filled with Pennzoil pure plus technology. So we have access to these phenomenal cars and use one in this film that we pushed it to its limits. It was amazing.

AdForum: Creating an ad for Pennzoil must be challenging because you must highlight qualities and characteristics of the product that aren’t tangible in many instances. How did JWT approach this challenge?

Jones: Sound. Sound is powerful. The sound design – which is nothing but the pure sound of the car – is intentional. Motor oil is a low involvement category – you can't touch it, you can't taste it, and you can't really see much looking at it. So the only kind of sensorial experience that we're able to play with is sound. If you hear the visceral performance of the car, you're going to, in a sense, experience the presence and function of motor oil. Sound is a very specific element that we spent a ton of time on. We take these cars for a whole day or two and we record all of the audio that emanates from them. So we get the purest sound, and the most distinct engine notes. What you are hearing is the raw sound of a car and it’s amazing.

AdForum: Does your personal background involve any experience with cars?

Jones: My dad was a race car driver, so I grew up going to the short track every weekend from about the age of four. Since then I've just been a huge car guy. It is a dream come true for me to able to work with Pennzoil and to choose different cars at different locations and work with a driver like Reese. It’s so much fun. It's the best job in the world.

AdForum: So, what should we expect next from this Pennzoil and JWT collaboration?

Jones: I can't really disclose the other cities that are coming up next – they will be surprises! But I can discuss the similar elements the new projects share. So, for instance, the whole idea behind the Ferrari campaign embraced this narrative of going from road to track. Our joy riders discover the car in Barcelona, drive it on the road, drive it on the track, and from those experiences are able to tell the Ferrari story. I will say that, creatively, we go from one extreme to another. So you could expect like extreme cold or extreme heat. You'll be surprised by the cars and vehicles we are using. The other hint I can give you is to think seasons: summer, winter, and perhaps fall.