This Isn’t Your Grandfather’s Motor Oil

By Jennifer Acevedo

Havoline is a 102-year-old brand with a rich heritage. Originally created by the Havemeyer Oil Company of New York, the brand was purchased by Texaco in the 1930s, and then changed hands again in 2004, when it was acquired by Chevron Oil.
While it enjoyed an extensive loyal following, at the time, Havoline could be perceived as a “gas station brand”—underdelivering on its inherent brand value and technical superiority. Chevron believed that the opportunity existed to elevate Havoline to its rightful place as one of America’s premium, innovative brands and to allow it to compete—based on quality and price—against such super-premium brands as Castrol, Valvoline and Mobil 1.
The strategy was two-fold: advance the product formulation by developing superior additive technology and redesign the packaging to align with the new value and positioning.
Havoline’s new proprietary Deposit Shield promises to protect a car’s “precious metal” (its engine) and instill a sense of confidence in guys who change their own oil and have motor oil pumping through their veins.
New packaging would be critical to communicating the change in positioning. And because the difference between its current “value brand” pricing and that of its premium goal price point was considerable (about $1/qt!), the new packaging was charged with the sizeable task of conveying the new formulation and truly premium quality.
First step was to create a proprietary bottle structure, which was developed by Graham Packaging. For the new label design, Chevron turned to brand identity and package design firm McLean Design. Early on, it was decided that the brand mark, and black, yellow and red colors were brand equities that would be retained. Next, the firm chose the honeycombed, internal surface of a quality oil filter as the iconic component that would communicate the notion of modern engine technology.
Says Ian McLean, president, McLean Design, “In order to be a credible offering in this segment, the entire package needed to exude modern engine technology. The overall communication, the net takeaway, is one of clean, pristine engine surfaces and materials: precision. This is a product for people who find a beautifully milled and machined engine to be better than art.”
Label architecture was also redesigned to focus on utility, helping consumers (eager to get outside and under the hood) locate and select the appropriate product quickly.
The Havoline with Deposit Shield introduction totals 34 SKUs. Further extension of the new graphics to other Havoline items such as coolants, transmission, brake and power steering fluids, greases and two–cycle oils, is expected.
The author, Jennifer Acevedo, is the Editor-in-Chief of BRANDPACKAGING magazine. Contact Jennifer at
Where to go for more information...
Branding and packaging graphics. At McLean Design, call 925.944.9500 or visit
Bottle design and manufacturing. At Graham Packaging, call 717.849.8500 or visit
Printing and labels. At Seneca Printing & Label, call 814.432.7890 or visit