Mike Ehrmantraut, the tough-yet-caring character Jonathan Banks plays on Better Call Saul and previously on Breaking Bad, is the ultimate fixer. Banks exudes the same rough charm in a series of ads for Fram oil filters, by Chicago-based agency Laughlin Constable.
Banks is the perfect choice to play “Frampa”, the salty sage teaching the next generation of DIYers to do right by their cars in a new campaign from Fram Group. The four spots feature Frampa giving advice to younger DIY oil changers as they shop at the auto parts store and change their oil. He uses grunts, few words and suggestive looks to get them to buy the right oil filter – Fram – when they change their oil.
In one spot, he appears to a young man who is listening to driving techno music as he changes his oil, saying that as much as the guy spends tricking out his car stereo, he should spend the money on a quality Fram oil filter. “Your engine will thank me. Now you can get back to your robot music,” Banks says as he tosses the car keys back to a startled looking twenty-something. “They’re not Robots, they’re Swedish,” the younger man says.
In another, Banks asks a shopper, “You wouldn’t cook a prime rib in a microwave, would you?” To which the guy replies, “I’m vegan…but I get your point.”
The scripts and the Frampa name were cooked up by Jon Laughlin, writer and creative director at Laughlin Constable.
“We were just riffing around, and he riffed that, and we said ‘that’s great’! We just started building from there,” said Dan Fietsam, chief creative officer.
From there, they thought about casting and immediately thought of Banks.
“When we wrote them and talked about them, we said this was something Banks could do. He was kind of a touchstone for us. The relationship between Mike Ehrmantraut’s character and Jesse Pinkman’s character (Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad) was very much what we started talking about because it represented the older generation mentoring the younger generation about how things are done and passing on wisdom. He’s got the wisdom…if he’s paying attention to you he cares about you. He’s not going to waste his time on somebody he doesn’t give a shit about. He’s not going to go easy on you. If he goes hard on you it means he cares,” said Fietsam.
The agency sent Banks the scripts and luckily he loved them, loved the character and was in.
Laughlin Constable worked with Fram to address their issue of knowledge about changing oil and using the right filter, especially to a new generation.
“The fundamental issue Fram is facing, anybody 45 and older knows Fram, knows the brand, knows it’s worth a little bit more than a generic oil filter, and is familiar with the (former) tagline, ‘you can pay me now, or you can pay me later.’ We’ve always liked the idea of that tagline. We didn’t want to bring back the line, but we wanted to bring back the wisdom of the line and hand it down to the next generation of DIY-ers,” said Fietsam.
They decided they needed to put the message in a voice that millennials were going to respect, listen to and like without pandering to the demographic. Banks had that appeal to younger people, and his performances are spot-on perfect.
“He’s able to communicate with the raise of an eyebrow or a nod or just a look. We didn’t even have to talk about that. He just would do it and nail it,” he said. “I cannot say enough good things about him. He is a super, great, authentic, warm guy. He’s very charismatic. You don’t want to say anything dumb in front of him. He wouldn’t come down on you but he has that gravitas. It’s a part of who he is. He just commands respect. He was super collaborative with us. He was very funny, told a lot of stories about Breaking Bad. We did casting actually at his house, he invited us to his house and made coffee for us. It was wonderful working with him.”
While not as many people are changing their oil as they used to, especially with more complicated engines that require computers, the process of changing your car’s oil is still something people can do, and are doing, and Fram wants them to know that using their filters is a better option than generic.
“People used to learn about changing their oil from someone more experienced, like a father or an uncle. Those older guys historically reached for the Fram filter. But the current generation hasn’t been taught the value of using the right filter and they reach for the cheap one,” said Fram brand manager Brian Kelley. “So we wanted to introduce the kind of mentor who people would trust to help them do the whole job right.”
The Frampa campaign will be nationwide, digitally targeted to people who are shopping for oil and oil filters, and it is going out socially as well.
Banks even went so far as to film the front end of a how-to video of how to change an oil filter in the Frampa character in an internal video for the Fram sales people.
“He said he was very honored to be a spokesperson for this company and he liked the ethos of ‘pay me now or pay me later’ and doing stuff yourself. If you’re going to do a job, do it right,” stated Fietsam.