Today someone who read my last article asked me: how’d Throttle Muscle get its start with MDA? Well, that’s a great question and one that should make for a great topic here! I have to go pretty far back though to start this story. To understand the motivation behind our relationship with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, I have to admit that cause marketing has always been something that motivates me. From lube-a-thons benefiting the United Way, 9/11 Fire Fighters to more localized events for land slide victims of La Conchita, my Jiffy Lube partners and I have always tried to give back to our communities. That is one of the main reasons that the late Lisa Carlson (whom to this day I miss tremendously) encouraged me to join the Jiffy Lube Marketing Committee. One of the first projects I worked on as part of the Jiffy Lube Marketing Committee was the development of our Maintenance Partners for Life partnership with the American Heart Association. This project was driven by Lisa Carlson’s passion for the Go-Red for Women campaign and one that united the entire Jiffy Lube Franchise community in a way we had never seen before.
The Jiffy Lube Maintenance Partners for Life campaign was a great success. Jiffy Lube was the first major corporate sponsor of American Heart Association that raised over $1 Million in the first year of the partnership. Jiffy Lube also received a Silver Halo award from the Cause Marketing forum in 2009 for the Maintenance Partners for Life program and I was fortunate enough to be asked to receive the award with then VP of Marketing and Innovation John Sanfacon. Although I was only a small piece of the larger overall effort, it was an honor being the head of the Cause Marketing Subcommittee that helped put the program together. This set the bar for all future Cause Marketing partnerships.
When the Jiffy Lube agreement with AHA ended, the Subcommittee was tasked with vetting several potential Cause Marketing partners. This takes me to April 2011 when Virginia Sanchez asked me to join her in Tucson to meet at the then MDA Headquarters to listen to a presentation by Kevin Moran, then Executive Vice President. The night before our formal meeting, Virginia and I joined Kevin and Brian Hunter for dinner near our hotel in Tucson. That dinner was impactful on so many different levels. I was so impressed with how down to Earth Kevin and Brian were and how they rose through the ranks at MDA out of their passion for the cause and the people they serve. There was absolutely nothing corporate about them, they were just real people passionate about the cause. To be completely honest, I remember very little about the next day. (I don’t drink so don’t go there!) I was just so enamored with what we had already experienced that the presentation just seemed like a formality!
It was a good thing that I was only part of a committee and not the decision maker! In my mind the decision would have been an easy one! Fortunately after the vetting of the possible Cause Marketing partners was complete, the entire Marketing Committee landed on MDA! Up to that point I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting any of the families MDA served, I was simply on board because of the energy and passion of the individuals we met in Tucson. Little did I know that a dinner in Chicago (that I previously wrote about) would take my passion and desire to a whole new level to support MDA.
Upon returning from that dinner in Chicago, my brother Cody Mead and the rest of our team put our heads together to try and figure out a way we could all give more to MDA. Cody’s business already had a line of windshield wiper blades and his idea was to co-brand the wiper blades with MDA to include a donation each time a pair was purchased. We all agreed that this was a great idea, but the profit margin on a pair of wiper blades is razor thin and we knew we’d have to come up with some different ideas to help move the needle. Our goal was to come up with some items that could be used at every oil change interval and also be able to be offered in retail. That’s when we came up with branding a line of engine and fuel treatments that could be used at every oil change interval and also include an automatic donation to MDA! It was a sort of year round giving opportunity that would help us drive donations not only in our Jiffy Lube stores but across other automotive chains and in retail.
I reached out to Kevin Moran at MDA and made it clear that my brother’s team (that he had met in Chicago) and I had some non-Jiffy Lube ideas that we wanted to run by MDA and if he could point us in the right direction. A brief phone call ensued where Kevin shared a lot of excitement as MDA was looking for a relationship of this nature and offered to meet up with us in Las Vegas to discuss the idea. Little did I think or know that that phone call would be the beginning of the end of my time on the Jiffy Lube Marketing Committee.
On Friday March 30, 2012 Cody, Kevin and I met in Las Vegas for a lunch meeting to discuss our ideas. At that meeting we presented Kevin with the concept of co-branding two lines of windshield wiper blades and two fuel treatments. We pitched him the concept of Muscle Blades and Throttle Muscle. Two brand names that could elevate donations in my Jiffy Lube stores and potentially others within Cody’s portfolio of customers. The meeting was short. To all three of us it was a no-brainer! Throttle Muscle and Muscle Blades were born!