Hot Shot’s Secret and Brenton Productions: A Formula for Success
Lubrication Specialties, Inc. founder and president Chris Gabrelcik takes a scientist’s approach to his business. He wants to make sure people understand how his products work, and why he so strongly believes in them.
Gabrelcik’s approach to explaining why his products are, as his slogan says, “Powered by Science,” reveals another chemistry lesson about his company’s successful growth: believing you have a great product is only one part of the formula; the other part is how you tell the story.
Where It Started
When Lubrication Specialties, Inc. (or LSI) started working with Brenton Productions in 2010, Gabrelcik had one product, then simply known as “Hot Shot’s Secret.” LSI was a small company at the time, with four or five employees operating from, as Gabrelcik puts it, “a 30-by-40-foot pole barn.” In order to grow the business, the company would need to tell its story in a bigger way.
Gabrelcik says this is where Brenton Productions, a pioneering producer of automotive aftermarket television, came into the picture. When account manager Arthur Irwin reached out to Gabrelcik about having his product featured in a “Break Room” segment of Truck U, Gabrelcik saw an opportunity to introduce Hot Shot’s Secret to a wider audience through television.
Sparking a Reaction Through TV
A “Break Room” product feature is a 30-second segment during which one of the show hosts takes a break from working on a vehicle to share a product with the audience, briefly explaining what it does and how it works.
Since much of the 30-second segment includes close-up footage of the product and its branding, this type of product integration lends itself well to introducing something new to the audience.
Breakroom features on Two Guys Garage and Truck U also include an on-screen graphic that displays the web address associated with the product, offering the potential of a significant boost in exposure for web-based companies.
In addition to air time, Two Guys Garage and Truck U Break Room segments are posted on the show’s webpage, along with a link to the product’s website. With web traffic directed from the episode page to a virtual storefront, viewers can easily become potential customers.
“That’s the unique selling advantage of TV.”
~ Chris Gabrelcik
“It was worth a try, so we did one episode,” says Gabrelcik, “and we got a lot of hits on the website. That’s all we had at the time, was just a website; we didn’t have any retail distribution.”
Retail didn’t enter the picture for LSI until about 2012, when Gabrelcik and his team began selling to local garages, then regional chain stores, and finally national retailers. When LSI landed a deal with Tractor Supply Company, Gabrelcik says it became necessary to scale up their advertising.
This meant taking advantage of additional types of integrations on Brenton Productions’ series, Two Guys Garage and Truck U. 2012 also brought LSI the opportunity to tell the story of the ever-growing Hot Shot’s Secret product line on All Girls Garage and Car Fix, two new series that Brenton Productions created for the launch of the Velocity network. This expanded roster provided Gabrelcik and his growing team with the ability to begin experimenting with new approaches to spreading the word about their products.
“We kept looking for more ways to do things on a really bigger scale,” says Gabrelcik. “And that’s what Brenton has – that’s the unique selling advantage of TV.”
Exploring the Impact of Product Integration
Break Room product features are just one of the ways products can be integrated into an episode of Two Guys Garage or Truck U. Products can also be demonstrated or installed during an In-Show product feature, or star in a Tech Tip – a one-minute segment that teaches the viewer how to solve a common problem or complete a DIY project. A product can also gain brand presence through sponsorship and brand exposure opportunities.
Over the years, LSI has tried different combinations of these integrations. With more options for increasing his consumer audience, Gabrelcik says TV allows his team to strategize their ad spending in preparation for each step of expanding the business. Ever the scientist, he has worked with his team to create an equation for how their marketing budget should grow in order to reach more consumers quickly.
“We did all different kinds of things like commercials, Break Rooms, Tech Tips, and In-Show features,” says Gabrelcik. He says he and his team observed how their web traffic averages would increase each time one of these segments aired on TV. “So, if at the time it was, maybe, 1000 people a day coming to the website, whenever an episode would air with an In-Show feature, it went up to 2000.”
Tracking the average increases for each kind of integration, Gabrelcik and his team used that data to create a strategy for how to best grow their audience. He says TV allows for this rapid audience increase in a way that few other methods can.
“I’ve only got maybe ten seconds to grab a consumer’s attention…
so TV gives us a chance to do that.” ~ Chris Gabrelcik
He also says getting consumers to choose his product is where TV proves to be a more effective tool, because it tells the full story of how a product works and why it is the best choice.
When Truck U director and producer Matt Allegretti creates an integration for a Hot Shot’s Secret product, he and Gabrelcik always start the conversation by addressing the science of how the product was designed to fix a common problem. From the beginning of his working relationship with Gabrelcik, Allegretti could see that communicating the chemistry behind each product was the key to developing a compelling story.
“Chris would go, ‘Let me tell you why I developed this product first and foremost – because I was fixing this problem that actually happens,’” says Allegretti.
The next step is finding a truck that matches the story Gabrelcik wants to tell. Allegretti says the best product integrations often stem from a need to solve a problem with a vehicle.
For a Hot Shot’s Secret integration, this often means revealing the inner workings of the truck to the viewer, in order to visually explain what that problem is, and how Gabrelcik’s product can fix it. Sometimes this means doing a spray test with fuel injectors, or removing and tearing apart an oil separator to show what’s going on inside the truck.
“It’s not just, ‘Oh, your engine’s knocking; you can fix an engine knock with this,’’ says Allegretti. “It’s really zeroing in on, ‘Here’s the actual problem.’ We would get a little more scientific on it.”
Getting viewers to understand how his products fix common problems is one of the major ways Gabrelcik says TV does for his business what other forms of marketing and advertising can’t.
“For instance, on the shelf at Tractor Supply, I can’t show the cutaway of a turbo charger; I can’t show how stiction is being eliminated, or why this product does it, because I’ve only got maybe ten seconds to grab a consumer’s attention,” says Gabrelcik.
“You’re not going to go back and look at all the laboratory testing and, ‘How did this one compare with that one, and which one did a better job?’ You don’t have the option to do that when you’re standing at the shelf…so TV gives us a chance to do that – it gives us the chance to tell a story, and that’s the primary area where we’re able to excel.”
“They don’t just take a marketing approach to it; it’s more, ‘let’s look at the chemistry,’” says Allegretti. “I think that’s why Chris has been so successful… He’s always done that.”
Building a Bond Between Hot Shot’s Secret and Brenton Productions
In 2015, Gabrelcik was honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year for the Ohio Valley region. Following this prestigious honor, LSI expanded to a new 35,000 square foot facility that now houses a growing staff and a business that continues to expand.
“When we started it was one product, and now we have 20,” says Gabrelcik. “And we’ve used Brenton Productions to introduce new products, and to inform people about what the products are.”
Gabrelcik believes that the highest-quality products have the most to gain from TV. When LSI hired a marketing company in 2016, Gabrelcik and his team were advised that the key to continuing their success was to keep educating their customers on how and why their products outshine their retail shelf rivals.
“They said, ‘You guys have created a really high-end, professional-grade product that’s on the shelf with other stuff,” says Gabrelcik. “‘Somehow, you’ve got to get the story told – yes, they both say the same thing, but this is how much different it is.’ And that’s what TV gives us the opportunity to do.”