Meet the Parents: Who Knew the Jeep Wrangler Was Human?
Humanizing animals is the easiest way to help kids sympathize with the plight of small, cuddly forest creatures, and thus the easiest way to turn them into staunch environmentalists. People do this because it works. It’s easy, and it sticks. How many non-hunters picture Bambi’s ill-fated mother when they consider taking up the outdoorsman life? Probably quite a few.
In the auto realm, humanization of cars is mainly the domain of Disney and Pixar and schlocky horror directors. Movies like The Love Bug, Cars, Christine, and The Car appeal to very different audiences, but they all succeed in humanizing their subjects to some degree. A car can be a living thing, menacing or cute, cuddly or lethal, if deep-pocketed filmmakers or marketing types desire it. We can even put ourselves in the shoes (brake shoes?) of a car.
Well, those deep-pocketed people have now humanized the Jeep Wrangler. It was born. It lives. It has a voice. But does it speak to you?
Jeep won plenty of kudos for what it chose to do with its mega-expensive Superbowl slot, and rightly so. It’s one of the best car commercials I’ve seen in ages. A simple, stripped-down ad that matter-of-factly trashes the “grandiose” manifestos put out by insecure automakers, the Superbowl spot showed a rugged vehicle doing what a rugged vehicle does best (and in one uninterrupted shot, no less).
The message was simple: Flowery language is unnecessary, and existential promises of what a vehicle can do/be are misleading. Just watch this.
In its new ad campaign, however, the redesigned-for-2018 Wrangler JL takes its self-promotion in a different direction. Jeep isn’t showing us what a Wrangler can do (even though it does, constantly), it’s having the Wrangler tell us about its life. We even see its parents. Sort of.
Titled “Freedom and Adventure,” the ad, narrated by a gravel-voiced man seemingly borrowed from past Ram commercials, showcases a life through a series of film clips dating back to World War 2. “This is my story,” he growls, speaking both as the Wrangler (and its Willys ancestor) and as a man conceived by a “gung-ho” American G.I. and his free-spirited bride.
“I was born in a hurry,” he continues. “The world made war. My parents made love, and I screamed into life.”
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