Publicis turns Jeeps into a new kind of street media

Who: Jeep, with Publicis for strategy and creative, with production and development work by Nurun, Snapchat, and Dutch social agency GoSpooky, and media by Starcom.

What: “Jeep Code,” a new campaign built around a Snapchat lens that turns the iconic grille of any Jeep into a digital car shopping experience.

When & Where: The campaign began with last week’s lens launch in Snapchat, supported by paid advertising in Snapchat and other media, complemented by PR and influencer outreach.

Why: The challenge facing Jeep and Publicis was that while more young people showed an interest in buying a vehicle as the pandemic wore on, not nearly enough of them were thinking about Jeep. Publicis was working on new ways to connect with those young car shoppers.

One of the early ideas was how, or if, they could use Jeeps in the real world to trigger a digital shopping experience. In other words, if someone sees a Jeep on the street, how can Jeep connect with them in that moment.

“We said, ‘Can we make every Jeep become a dealership where you can go and get some more information, and find out what are the models, how much they would cost, and how can I buy one,” said Joanna Monteiro, chief creative officer at Publicis Toronto “If we can do that with every Jeep, it would be amazing.”

But finding the technology to do that was difficult, she said. Most of the solutions involved taking a picture and uploading it somewhere to initiate the shopping experience. “It was too complicated,” she said. “We were almost waiting for a miracle to happen. Some kind of technology that would allow us to do it properly.”

How: There are two key elements at the core of the campaign. First, was the realization that every Jeep has an iconic and recognizable front grille that looks like a barcode. “The question was, can we turn every Jeep into a Jeep with a barcode?” said Monteiro.

At first they were worried the grilles were too similar to differentiate between models, but they found out there was enough difference that they could effectively have seven different bar codes for seven different models.

But this is where they ran into the technology problem—until Snapchat came along. It introduced new AR technology that allows the user to simply hold their phone up to the Jeep and scan the grille to get more information about the model in front of them—including features, starting prices and links to the home page to search inventory, build and price, and even start the buying process.

”You don’t even realize when you are the experience on Snapshot and when you are into the Jeep environment,” she said.

While Snapchat skews toward a younger user not yet in the market for a new car, according to Publicis 28% of its users are 25-34, meaning the platform has a lot of opportunity beyond this short term campaign. “There are a lot of things that we can do with that,” said Monteiro. ”It’s a new media for Jeep, that is going to be the Jeep.”

And we quote: “More and more, vehicle purchases are being conducted in the digital realm, and this is a great way for new or potential customers to instantaneously experience the Jeep showroom at their convenience, learn about our exciting vehicle lineup, search available inventory and connect with a local dealer.” —William Levasseur, Jeep’s vice-president of sales and marketing, Canada.

David Brown