Meet the Parents: Who Knew the Jeep Wrangler Was Human?

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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  • MeJ MeJ on Mar 14, 2018

    I like both commercials, but the second one would have been better with no talking at all.

  • Garrett Garrett on Mar 14, 2018

    His parents made love? It was a bit more complicated. In reality, Bantam got cuckolded and Willys and Ford lived happily ever after.

  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Cory. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.