Jeep Uses Real-Time Relevance To Connect With Fans (Hat Tip to David Meerman Scott)

Jeep Monolith

I truly love this campaign that has the influence of best-selling author (and Brand ManageCamp marketing conference speaker) David Meerman Scott written all over it!

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or monolith), you’re aware of the mysterious monolith that was discovered deep in the desert of southeastern Utah by officers of the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Aero Bureau on November 18th.

It was an unexplained shiny metal object stuck in the ground and nobody knew how it got there (aliens?).

It was removed (by humans, not aliens) on November 27th.

Days after the Utah monolith was removed, subsequent monoliths were found in Romania, California, and the English Isle of Wight.

Obviously, these events were news that generated worldwide curiosity and interest.

And one brand, that truly understands itself, was able to tap into that interest for a real-time campaign that perfectly matches its message.

An Alien Charging Station

Jeep Tweet

On December 3rd, Jeep dropped an image of its new rechargeable Wrangler 4xe, which is coming in 2021, parked next to a monolith in the desert. The Wrangler is plugged into the monolith which has been repurposed to depict a Jeep branded charging station. The copy reads “The new rechargeable Jeep Wrangler 4xe will be out of this world. (Coming Early 2021).”

The post was placed on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and was produced by agency Highdive.

According to Adweek, within 24 hours of the post it became Jeep’s top static social Facebook post of 2020. As of this writing, the post has over 57,000 reactions, 29,000 shares, and 8,400 comments.

On Instagram, the post is also Jeep’s #1 static post of 2020 with 292,000 likes and over 3,600 comments.

It’s also among Jeep’s top 2020 tweets with about 3,600 likes, 810 retweets, and 155 comments.

Some of the representative comments from Instragram include:

rachad.7 @jeep the best marketing campaign of the decade
callumdavies @jeep well played
aidanjsharp And this Is why we love Jeep
elk127 My dream of owning a wrangler just became so much stronger!!
Realevanstewart This wins it
ryan_peirona Marketing team needs a raise
rach925 @jeep you win

In leafing through the comments – which were overwhelmingly positive – responses from Jeep were prolific, usually met with a response to the response (again, positive).

So, what can we learn from how Jeep took advantage of this opportunity? Keep in mind, I haven’t spoken with Jeep about this. But, regardless, here are some things to think about:

1 – You have to be prepared to move quickly

Real Time Mktg and PR

Getting a spot done this quickly is no accident. There has to be a mentality and structure that allows this kind of speed. It’s even more impressive that it involved an outside agency.

In his book “Real-Time Marketing & PR,” David Meerman Scott talked about some of the things you have to do in your organization to be able to take advantage of real-time opportunities.

David discusses things like having a team that is charged with this type of activity, keeping a watchful eye on what’s being said and done in the marketplace and in the world, developing guidelines, making sure employees are aware of how this type of activity fits within their jobs, and making sure you continue to interact with your customers and consumers.

I would say it’s safe to assume that Jeep was well prepared for this activity before it ever presented itself. To be able to recognize the opportunity and get the ad shot and placed in such a short amount of time, there had to be people specifically tasked and authorized to do so.

There had to be pre-understood procedures for identifying the opportunity and moving down the path of development and publishing of the content. And it didn’t stop there. Even after the publishing, Jeep stayed engaged and continued the conversation with the audience.

I’m sure David would be proud.

2 – The Power of Fans


David’s most recent book is called “FANOCRACY: Turning FANS into CUSTOMERS and CUSTOMERS into FANS.” In it, he describes the power and importance of intentionally creating strong connections with and honoring your brand’s fans. It involves focusing on things like community and philanthropy and fun instead of making everything about the almighty dollar.

Jeep does a lot of the things David recommends in order to build great fan bases. For example, David talks about the need to “Get closer than usual” and “break down barriers.”

Every year, around Easter time, the Red Rock 4-Wheelers club in Moab, Utah puts on the annual Easter Jeep Safari, a 9 day event that draws Jeep enthusiasts from all over to compare rides, run trails, and just have fun. Sure, Jeep is a sponsor – but they don’t run the thing. They trust the fans to run it. And the fans don’t disappoint.

It’s a welcoming atmosphere with every Jeep model you could think of – from the biggest and baddest Rubicons to my 1995 Jeep Cherokee. Trails are expertly rated so that you can choose the best one for your rig’s (and your) capabilities and are led by volunteers from the Red Rock 4-Wheelers club.

Each time my family and I go, we come away even bigger Jeep fans.

Another of David’s suggestions is to “let go of your creations.” Jeep is also masterful at this. While all Jeeps are made to be capable off-road in a stock configuration, the real joy of Jeeping is in the mods. Jeep enthusiasts joke that Jeep stands for “Just Empty Every Pocket,” because we’re never done tweaking and modifying.

Lifts, tire sizes, axles, gear ratios, under-vehicle protection, the list goes on and on. It’s part of Jeeping, and Jeep knows it and embraces it.

Jeep fans are also a fun-loving bunch. So the cheekiness and timeliness of the monolith ad was sure to resonate.

3 – Know Thyself


Let’s be honest, a major reason this ad works so well is because it perfectly fits the brand. A big part of Jeep’s message is “Long Live The Journey.” On the Jeep website, it says:

“Jeep Brand vehicles have seen and done a lot in 80 years, from their beginnings in World War II to becoming an icon in 4×4 capability. Join us as we celebrate eight decades of perseverance and adventure.”

That adventurous spirit, that ability to go where other vehicles can’t or won’t, that ability to break away and be free – that’s what Jeep is all about. Combine that with the fact that Jeep doesn’t take itself too seriously and there is really no other car company that could have pulled off this ad with as much credibility.

I mean, what other car would be all the way out in the middle of the Utah desert? And what a great way to usher in a new breed of Jeep – the rechargeable Wrangler 4xe.

It works because it fits and it feels right.

Conclusion / Next Steps

So there you have it. Not only is this Jeep ad a true winner, it’s a perfect mash-up of the learnings from my two favorite David Meerman Scott books.

I recommend you get both of them. And I recommend you think about how to apply the three learnings from this spot to your organization.

Are you prepared to move quickly? How fast could you have executed this ad? Who in your organization would have had the initiative and the permission to get it going?

Does your brand have fans? And don’t say your brand isn’t the type to have fans. David dispels that myth in his book. Any brand can develop a fan base. You just need to consciously set out to do it and nurture it and honor it.

Do you know your brand as well as you need to? Are you producing work and messaging that can only come from your brand? Are you so clear that everyone – internal and external to your organization – gets it and understands it? Does that understanding guide everything you do?

Those monoliths might not have been placed by aliens. But Jeep’s reaction to them was certainly out of this world. I wish you similar success.

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  1. David Meerman Scott

    What a great example, Len!

    As you say in the post, real-time is the key here. Yet nearly all marketers are in campaign mode rather than real-time mode, so those like Jeep (and us) who understand have an advantage.

  2. Len Herstein

    Exactly right, David!


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