Consumer Engagement Campaign for GUNK®

Consumer Engagement Campaign for GUNK®

Client: GUNK® brand, Radiator Specialty Company

Project: GUNK “Serious Solutions Challenge” Consumer Engagement Campaign


  • Launch a consumer engagement campaign that makes a heritage brand relevant to the next generation of automotive enthusiasts
  • Position GUNK® brand as a long term partner dedicated to educating future automotive technicians
  • Partner with a national non-profit organization to bring increased credibility to the program
  • Engage the next generation of automotive technical students and their teachers and educate them about GUNK® and its uses
  • Develop a program that would lead to user-generated video and social media content about GUNK® products
  • Generate excitement and visibility for GUNK® at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas and make the GUNK® booth stand out from hundreds of thousands of exhibitors
  • Create an engaging trivia style game show at SEMA to entice a crowd, challenge the students and attract media attention

Strategies and Tactics:

  • Created an online portal,, where students could enter the Challenge and learn more about the scholarship program
  • Partnered with SkillsUSA® and contact ed200+ post-secondary schools with an automotive focus within the SkillsUSA network
  • Ensured each school that had at least one student participate in the Challenge was sent a case of free GUNK® products to use in the classroom
  • Worked with a panel of judges, including representatives from GUNK®, SkillsUSA® and an editor from Hemmings, the premiere automotive publication, to select five finalists from the 30 videos that were submitted via YouTube
  • Five winners received a $3,500 scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to SEMA for them and their instructors
  • SA created a Jeopardy-style challenge at SEMA, complete with celebrity radio host Bobby Likis, where each of the five students competed for a $5,000 donation to their school’s automotive department
  • Throughout all of the milestones associated with the competition, SA generated coverage for GUNK® in local, regional and national print, broadcast and online outlets

National Nonprofit Partnership:

  • SA recommended partnering with SkillsUSA® to help identify automotive technician programs around the country to raise visibility for the scholarship program and get “cans in hands” of future GUNK® users.
  • Through the partnership, SA and GUNK® provided free GUNK® products and introduced curriculum sheets for auto vo-tech students that included best practices for jobs after graduation, and best practices around the garage
  • Automotive instructors found the sheets very helpful and practical to them and their students, and welcomed the curriculum sheets with open arms.
  • This enabled the campaign to reach far beyond just the students who ultimately entered the challenge.

Media Relations:

  • SA’s campaign created connections with trade, consumer, local, regional and national media during each milestone of the campaign
  • The campaign generated frequent news over its 6 month span that SA shared with many different types of consumer and trade media
  • SA developed template press releases for each of the 30+ schools that entered the competition to distribute to local newspapers
  • Once the five finalists were selected, SA secured local newspaper and broadcast interviews with the students
  • The culmination of the Challenge at SEMA also helped increase traffic and generate excitement at the GUNK® booth with media and buyers at SEMA through a creative game-show style booth set up, a fully restored 1968 Chevelle finished in glistening GUNK® colors, professional MC Bobby Likis, and a crowd rooting for our student finalistsGunk_01_1000

Social Media:

  • The online video entries on the GUNK® YouTube channel helped increase the brand’s online presence and highlighted customer experiences with GUNK® products
  • Almost all media linked online posts to the YouTube channel, and posted links to the grand prize winner’s video


  • Within a 6 month time span, SA garnered national and online placements reaching a combined 6.1 million impressions for the GUNK® Serious Solutions Challenge
  • Multiple interviews on the Bobby Likis Car Clinic Shows, promoting the Serious Solutions Challenge, both before and after the final Challenge at SEMA.
  • A three minute segment on local finalist Sean Murphy and the GUNK® Serious Solutions Challenge on NBC’S Knoxville affiliate.
  • Secured extensive media coverage in publications including Auto Enthusiast, After Market News, The Tennessean, The Pueblo Chieftain, Vehicle Service Pros, Pro Pickup, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Modesto Bee,, Knoxville News Sentinel, Tomorrow’s Technician and Hemming’s.
  • Overall, GUNK® reported higher sales for the year, finishing above projections and goals for 2011

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