CAN WE FINALLY TALK ABOUT THE SUPER BOWL?
Yes, we'll finally do it.
Now that the hoo-hah has died down;
Now that my die-hard Philly fan of a wife has been in an Eagles victory parade down Park City's Main Street with eight other cockeyed optimists in green jerseysand been covered in the local paper;
Now that the Valentine's Day launch of CoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun & Profit has happened and you may or may not have paid attention to it (here's the link: https://tinyurl.com/y73nu26g);
We can finally talk about the commercials.
And we're going to talk about what should be your personal favorite, even though it's probably not.
BUT FIRST, A DISCLAIMER
I know that it was also the favorite of Wizard of Ads partner Jeff Sexton, a brilliant copywriter the hem of whose garment I am unworthy to kiss.
I know Mr. Sexton has already opined upon this commercial.
I, however, have not yet read his missive.
I did not wish to be influenced, in whole or in part, by his writing.
So everything here is on me. We are not cribbing notes from his screed. (Though, that could be difficult. His screed is generally much more polite than my own.)
Here it comes:
Thirty words of announcer copy.
One single, 40-second take.
OPEN ON A LONG SHOT ACROSS A RIVER
Coming through tall, dry grass is a red Jeep.
The Jeep plunges over the river bank and into the water.
Announcer: "How many car ads have you seen with grandiose speeches over the years?"
There's a big a splash as the Jeep barrels through the river towards the camera, water up to the bumper.
Announcer: "Big declarations making claims to some overarching human truth."
The Jeep passes by the camera and heads towards a waterfall. It surges up a rock ledge.
Announcer: "Companies call these commercials manifestos."
The Jeep aims towards the cascading waters. It bounces across a series of rocks, climbs up the waterfall, and barrels away.
Announcer: "There's your manifesto."
Graphic: "The all-new 2018 Wrangler." Graphic fades to: "Jeep."
THE SIMPLICITY AND ELEGANCE OF THIS MESSAGE DEFIES SUPER BOWL MADNESS
It's been a long time since Super-Bowl-commercial mania dished out anything this refined.
It also belies a deep emotional charge that fuels the purchase of vehicles like Jeep.
And there's the fact that weeks after seeing this message just one time in a crowded, noisy room, it still resonates.
It may not resonate for you.
Speaking personally, my wife and I live 5 miles up a rutted dirt road with over a thousand feet of elevation gain.
We live a different kind of Jeep lifestyle.
Jeep is relevant to us. We owned a Wrangler for a while.
WE PRESENTLY OWN A 19-YEAR OLD JEEP CHEROKEE
That vehicle is a beast.
It, too, is red.
And it could have easily followed that all-new 2018 Wrangler up that waterfall.
And laughed. Ha!
This Jeep commercial is one of the oldest, most time-tested ways of advertising: The product demonstration.
It cuts, it chops, it dices, it slices, it gets out blood stains, it'll blend a Justin Bieber CD, an iPhone and a wooden rake handle, it even starts a car that's been left parked in zero-degree weather overnight with the lights on.
PRODUCT DEMONSTRATION IS NOT HIP, IT'S NOT COOL, IT DOESN'T WIN A CANNES GOLD LION
But it's arguable that this product demonstration breaks the mold enough that it could win all kinds of awards.
Because it is smart, refined, and has attitude up the wazoo.
"Hey, buddy. Ya know all the pretense that car makers love to throw atcha? We have no pretense. We just quietly kick ass. So there."
That Jeep commercial isn't really aimed at me or at the Fabulous Honey Parker, or at anyone else who lives a Jeep lifestyle.
People with an actual need for high-clearance, 4WD vehicles already know Jeep. They love it or they don't.
YES, WE ALL APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF THE PRODUCT DEMONSTRATION
But there's more at work here.
Brand is the one way the core customer should feel about the product.
And in this case, a company sold just shy of a million vehicles in North America in 2016 to almost nobody who needs to drive up a waterfall.
They mainly don't even need to drive five miles up a rutted dirt road.
You know where they need to drive? The supermarket. School. The office.
But all those Jeeps get bought because people feel like they're buying the power to control.
AND IN A TIME WHEN THE WORLD SEEMS OUT OF CONTROL?
The feeling of control is a powerful thing to be selling.
Moreover, in an overcrowded advertising environment, saturated with big and dramatic commercial productions that come at you throwing down rhymes and riding horses and breathing fire and kicking ass and taking names...
The ability to be heard above the mayhem...
With the power of a whisper...
Is a glorious thing.
It's too soon to know how well the Jeep commercial will do.
And this one message is a tiny part of a huge advertising machine.
Jeep has such an enormous product line, we may never know.
BUT HERE'S WHAT WE CAN TAKE AWAY...
It is mighty.
It makes a statement.
And it does so without pyrotechnics.
It takes an unsexy technique like product demonstration and gives it wings.
Or, rather, big tires.
And those qualities are available to any and all of us who have to create advertising on a micro-budget.
What we lack in budget, we get to make up for with talent and finesse.
Those two qualities can make even the smallest ad really, really big.
If you haven't yet been to iTunes for the CoupleCo podcast, it's filled with laughs, insights, and couples who are crushing it in business without crushing each other. Here's the link:
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.