Jeep Hits You In the Gut, Not The Cerebral Cortex

June 22, 2010

Jeep recently put out its ad for the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. In short, Jeep is proud to be American and wants consumers to buy American again, specifically pricey Jeeps with leather and such--cecause it's good for America. If you've seen Jeep's latest patriotic ad for the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, you'll agree, it's a really nicely turned out piece of emotional advertising.  

It's about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, making things, not selling services or investing in meaningless financial products. But the ad, while really good, didn't sit well with me because I think it's the wrong argument. I wanted it to be about beating the competition, and not about emotions. And it reminded me of the arguments I used to have with my dad many years ago in the '80s as the American auto industry was going through one of its worst periods ever.

Little did I know that I was a fee-trader when I was 13 years old, and was a car nut back then too. I would argue with my dad about buying foreign cars. He insisted on buying poorly built, unreliable, rust-prone domestic GM iron (a piddly 2.8-liter 113 horsepower V-6 with carbs that would stick shut on hot days!). All my friends parents had cool Japanese cars, or Saabs or Benzes and Audis, but he never even considered anything foreign because it took away jobs from Americans. I said that buying Japanese or German was just as good as, or in many cases better than buying American cars. It was the free market and would force the domestics to up their game. He'd yell at me to get out of the car and walk home. 

And Jeep (and Chrysler) nearly faded from existence due to poor product, and that's a fact. I feel Jeep is giving me too much sizzle and not enough steak. Tell me it has a direct-injected 350 horsepower V-8, an eight-speed transmission, twin turbos, has so much torque that it can tow a comet out of space and the entire cast of America's Biggest Loser at the same time. But I don't want you to sell me cars on emotion. Unless it's a Porsche, then I am sucker.

Look, this ad is great. Check it out below. Lovely images, perfect timing, superb simple music to pluck at your heart strings, that deep male voice that inspires confidence--all the tools an emotional ad needs to have. But it doesn't sell you the car on its merits. It leaves out facts and figures. I don't get that. Are Jeep owners not smart enough to get facts and figures? I just read on that the auto industry is pulling America out of the recession and American car companies are building the highest quality cars they have ever made. Isn't jeep part of that too?

But Jeep's ad pitch is at the gut, not the cerebral cortex.

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