The new Jeep ad campaign for its Grand Wagoneer super-luxury SUV, which debuts tonight, has the feel of one of the epic efforts of the last decade or so launched by a company that resurrected itself from bankruptcy with great branding and branding before. worthy products can finally prove what Jeep, Ram and Dodge have become in the minds of American consumers.
“Eyes Wide Open” is the campaign that Stellantis, new owner of the brand revived by Fiat Chrysler, is launching during the telecast of the first game of the 2022 World Series. Not coincidentally, to promote its first vehicle to break the $100,000 price tag in a standard way, Stellantis has signed up one of baseball’s gold standards, ex-Yankee superstar Derek Jeter and his wife, Hannah Jeter.
“We needed a personality that symbolizes American success and aspiration, for example,” Olivier Francois, global marketing director for Stellantis, told reporters. “Secondly, we wanted someone relatable to our customer, which is always key – someone they would know and would be relevant to them, possibly someone with a family, wife and kids, the kind of person who would authentically able to embody our new three-row SUV.
“And most importantly, it’s a Jeep, which is authentic, and we’re obsessed with it [criterion]”, continued Francois. “So we wanted someone who’s not necessarily a rock star or a Hollywood star, not necessarily someone who’s over-commercialized or a professional endorser. And it’s more complicated than you might think. It took weeks if not months to come up with the perfect choice.”
The timing of the campaign—created in collaboration with Chicago-based agency Highdive—is no coincidence either, although it wasn’t what Stellantis had initially envisioned. The Grand Wagoneer was coveted by top-of-the-range families and has been selling well, but since its production launch last year, the revived nameplate has been limited in supply like so many other vehicles. Stellantis only promoted it sparingly because of that.
And while Jeter’s New York Yankees didn’t make the series this year despite high expectations and the second-most regular season wins in the American League, Jeep now gets to stage a grand relaunch of the Grand Wagoneer on one of the best live TV platforms available.
The Grand Wagoneer campaign will roll out across North America across television, social media and digital media channels and include future print supplements. In addition to the 60-second launch spot, the campaign will include 30-second and 15-second video content featuring Jeters, running across multiple media platforms.
But not coincidentally, the primary vehicle for the new ads will be television, a medium that Francois has used to great effect with special ads for Stellanti’s US brands starting with the two-minute “Born of Fire” commercial for the Chrysler brand, featuring Eminem, during the Super Bowl 2011.
“We tend to get more and more smart, focused and selective” with advertising media, Francois said, “but this, as I see it, is really an ‘old medium’ campaign” for television. “We might be adapting creative that’s tailored for social media, but that’s, targeted, old media.”
Yes, the style and feel of the Grand Wagoneer spots with the Jeters is very reminiscent of the kind of big moment TV campaigns Fiat-Chrysler did regularly for years under Francois, but hasn’t run in a while since Stellantis bought it.
Matching the price and significance of the vehicle itself and what the Grand Wagoneer has to say about how the Jeep brand has “arrived” at such opulence and a rare price point, the “Eyes Wide Open” campaign has a sense of grandeur to it. The cinematography, the scenes on the red carpet, the scenes of the ordinary family, the good persona of Jeter himself, the glamor quotient of the fashion model Hannah Jeter and glimpses of the greatness of the vehicle that will surely be revelations to millions of American consumers — it all became a formula where the effort meets the moment.
The campaign seems like a perfect allegory for the pursuit of the Jeep brand itself, from its very utilitarian and rugged past to a formidable brand that now spans a large portion of the American auto market and one that can now encompass every segment from the $25,000 to $120,000.
Jeter is a product of Kalamazoo, Michigan, whose boyhood dream was to be a shortstop for the New York Yankees. But only through drive and authenticity and a distinctly American history—the kind associated with the Jeep brand—Jeter achieved the status of sports legend, 14 All-Star teams, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the subject of recent seven-part ESPN documentaries, The captain.
Thus, even the voice for the lead vocal ad, released Friday night, evokes some of the best tentpoles from Francois’ portfolio over the past 11 years, which includes now-classic uses by Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, Bill Murray, a posthumous Paul Harvey and others, as well as Eminem’s seminal participation that literally helped revive Fiat Chrysler a decade ago. (There’s even a self-referential bit about Detroit in the script, which has had almost nothing to do with Jeter — but everything to do with Fiat-Chrysler.)
“Ever wonder why they call it the American Dream…and not the American Goal?” it says in the ad. “Or the American plan? Maybe it’s because in dreams you can do anything. You can be reborn in the Motor City … And rise up in the city that never sleeps. You can turn time inside out, again and again. In dreams, you can hold your whole world in the palm of your hand. And you can do it all with your eyes wide open.”
The best thing about this ad might be that we can expect to see it on TV multiple times in the coming weeks of the World Series. Fiat-Chrysler’s iconic Super Bowl ads had their shining moments only once.