The Games We Play: Advertising Chicanery Begins on '2018 Jeep Wrangler'

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Late last year, I selected Jeep’s JL Wrangler as an Ace of Base once pricing for the snazzy new off-road rig was freshly announced.

That was 43 days ago, at which point I theorized that Wrangler shoppers would likely need to be weary of dealer bait-and-switch tactics, as both the new JL and the old JK are 2018 models. Specifically, I said:

Readers can be assured, then, of hearing hyper-caffeinated sales staff blaring in radio ads about ZOMG GREAT DEALZ ON 2018 WRANGLERS – only for frustrated shoppers to discover they are actually talking about the lame-duck Jeep and not the shiny new off-roader.

Well, that didn’t take long.

I know Twitter can be an utter cesspool of opinionated blowhards yelling into oblivion. Firing the contents of a bedpan off the head of a wharf into gale force northeasterlies has about the same result as going on Twitter for an hour. One generally ends up sad, frustrated, feeling dirty, and annoyed that they were silly enough to even do it in the first place.

Yet, I log in daily. Yesterday afternoon, the above tweet from Dartmouth Dodge showed up in my feed.

Alarm bells went off in this former car salesman’s head. A new Unlimited JL Wrangler is pictured amongst two JKs in a tweet advertising a $199 biweekly lease deal, pretty much mirroring my dire December predictions of the games dealers might play when two distinct models are both labelled by the factory as the same model year.

So, in the spirit of social media, I replied to the tweet.

Including the Unlimited JL Sahara pictured in Bright White? Or only 2018 JK's?

— Matthew the Car Guy (@matthewkguy) February 7, 2018

Typically polite Canadian, I know. But within a few minutes, I noticed they had deleted the original tweet and replaced it with another one mentioning different terms – 39 month lease instead of 36.

Fair enough. People make mistakes on Twitter all the time covfefe. It’s completely logical to delete and then re-issue a corrected message. But the same three images (two JKs and a JL) remained.

Dartmouth Dodge replied to my question with a question of their own, asking the following:

Hi Matthew, I think you're referring to this one?

— DartmouthDodge (@DartDodgeNS) February 7, 2018

To which I replied:

Hi. I appreciate the reply, thank you. Does the 'starting at $199b/w for 39mos' deal extend to the new JLs? Both the old and new Wranglers are 2018s, so thought I'd ask for clarity. Cheers.

— Matthew the Car Guy (@matthewkguy) February 7, 2018

Now, it’s their answer to this follow-up question, which was simply a clarification of my initial query, that irked me to no end.

The three Jeeps pictured match up with the three links posted.


Lease a 2018 Jeep Wrangler starting from $199 B/W plus taxes on a 39 Month Lease!


— DartmouthDodge (@DartDodgeNS) February 7, 2018

Not an overly helpful reply, in my opinion. Yes, of course the three links match up to the three Jeeps posted. I’m not an idiot. It also wasn’t my question. Now, I simply feel like a student who’s been chastised by the teacher and Dartmouth Dodge is still no closer to answering my original query: does the “starting at $199 biweekly” deal apply to both the new and old Wranglers? Here is their link to a $55,000 Wrangler for you to peruse. Here are some more. Think you’ll get any those for the advertised $199 biweekly?

I feel their initial replies were vague, designed to draw a person in to the dealer where I could be four-squared. Or perhaps it was just the product of a harried employee who had the responsibilities of Twitter dumped in their lap on top of an already busy day. Neither is overly helpful to a customer.

After thanking them last night, they replied this morning with a cheerful invitation to call them.

If you have any questions, feel free to call. Someone will be happy to answer. Have a great day!

— DartmouthDodge (@DartDodgeNS) February 8, 2018

Look, I’m not here to pillory dealers in general or to suggest Dartmouth Dodge is actively involved in nefarious trickery. It simply rankles me that a) my December assertions came to mind and b) the dealer did not fully clarify their ad when given a chance to do so.

There are plenty of great dealers out there. Truro Nissan right here in my town springs immediately to mind, as does the FCA shop here by the name of Blaikies Dodge. I’m sure there are many more examples, but I can definitively say the sales department in both of those stores go out of their way to accommodate customers, creatively market themselves, and steer clear of intentional obfuscation.

What do you think? Part of me is of the opinion that, with my age advancing and my hair receding, I’m just being contrary-minded. The other part – the part that abhors stupid games and opportunistic behavior – thinks any form of potentially confusing advertising should be quashed.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Mountain? Or molehill?

[Images via Twitter]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 42 comments
  • Testacles Megalos Testacles Megalos on Feb 08, 2018

    There's no chicanery, there never was nor will there ever be. The problem is with the Amurkin naive who believe that dealers want to sell cars, insurance companies care about your health, and trial attorneys want what's best for you. Message: They all exist primarily to earn money for the people who own the business. That's it. One simply remembers that these kinds of businesses exist solely to transfer your money to the owners' pockets. Cars, insurance, justice.....those are merely the preferred tool.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Feb 08, 2018

    To some folks money is a foreign film without subtitles. "Matchstick Men" (2003). Sorry I had to giggle at the thought of victims confused after getting the 2nd invoice in the mail just as they sent in the 1st B/W check.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.