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Jeep unfazed by advert backlash

Islamaphobic backlash to Super Bowl ad won't change promotional strategy, says Jeep

9 Feb 2015


JEEP’S global brand manager says the recent Islamaphobic backlash to a multi-million dollar advertisement which featured a Muslim girl does not represent the majority sentiment of its fans.

The 90 second promotional film, set to the American song ‘This land is your land’ featured changing scenes from around the world including Australia, but the appearance of a girl wearing a headscarf prompted a shock response from some Jeep followers.

Speaking at the United States launch of the Renegade small SUV, Jeep brand director Jim Morrison told GoAuto that, while the advert’s message had been lost on a handful of viewers, the campaign was as success in a majority of cases, and the negative reaction was always a possibility when dealing with passionate people.

“It did its job of getting the recognition for the new Renegade out there,” he said. “We are a very global company and what we saw was the expansion of a lot of things that are seen as American icons to go around the world, and it made logical sense for us to position the vehicle that way.

“It's nice to have passionate customers and passionate people involved with the brand. We are just the temporary curators of the brand. It’s really owned by the people who own Jeep vehicles. The passion comes through them and sometimes in that way and the conversations you are talking about.”

Mr Morrison said that as long as a majority of its target audience continued to understand the idea behind the advert, no drastic changes would be made to future advertising as a result of the backlash, but the company would learn from the unforeseen reaction.

“I think the chatter online has come around a little bit more with people who are a little bit more worldly coming into the conversation,” he said.

“We listen to everything and we always adapt.”

The controversial advertisement aired during the Super Bowl – one of America's most expensive ad slots, costing Jeep about US$13.5m (AU$17.4m) and Mr Morrison said the high-investment strategy would continue.

“Since 2010 when we launched the Grand Cherokee we have had consecutive growth year over year and the last three have been records for us,” he said. “The way we’ve done that is to continue investing in our products and we continue to invest in marketing and messaging that product.

“We don’t love it and leave it anymore. We make small interventions and we are always improving our vehicles more frequently than most expect and we keep advertising those advantages so that we can continue to grow the brand.”

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