The Jeep Campaign- Selling Great Ad Ideas to Car Dealers is No Picnic


15 Jun The Jeep Campaign- Selling Great Ad Ideas to Car Dealers is No Picnic

I worked almost 10 years in the advertising business as an account executive in a prominent agency. I was the client’s representative to the agency and the agency’s rep to the client. Balancing the sometimes conflicting needs of both the client and the agency was a constant challenge. We had just acquired the iconic Jeep account nationally and I headed the account for Western Canada. The client was represented by a board of directors made up of selected dealers and representatives from the factory. These highly independent dealers were used to doing things their way without an agency, so selling your ideas to a bunch professional car sales guys was not easy.

One of the first orders of advertising business was to run a Jeep YJ promotion in the spring. The goal was to increase sales over last year by 15%. We developed a TV script with a great concept of a young man picking up his pretty date for romantic picnic lunch in his sexy, topless Jeep YJ. They drive from an urban setting to a surprise picnic setting in a beautiful meadow and then it starts to rain. The TV spot showed the versatility and off road capability of the Jeep YJ with a touch of romance and humor set to the music of “Born to be Wild”. The dealers loved the concept. “How much is this going to cost to shoot”  one dealer asked? $30,000 for the spot plus television media buy. A deathly silence filled the boardroom. “We can get an ad made at BCTV FREE if we buy the TV spots there!!” a dealer insisted as other heads shook in agreement.

This was our first piece of ad work with this client so we had no track record with nor had we earned any trust. We could not produce this type of commercial in a studio, I argued. This ad would appeal to their core YJ demographic and get the sales results they were looking for. They could not rely on one TV station to get the coverage they needed to effectively reach our target Jeep buyer. Finally I argued the price of the spot was reasonable and we had other quotes to prove. They relented, we produced the commercial and ran the promotion. The promotion was a major success and the dealers increased sales more than 25% over the same period last year. The news of our success quickly spread to other Jeep dealer associations across Canada and they all wanted to use the TV spot we created. We happily negotiated a usage rate, with each of them and recovered the entire cost of the production. We looked like heroes and our dealers looked smarties. We could have taken the easy route and followed our clients suggestion on how to save money. Instead, we took a big risk, with their money and our reputation based on what we believed would get the best result for our client.