Jeep Gets Social to Reach Younger Buyers

With a new entry-level vehicle that appeals less to baby boomers and more to their kids, Jeep is turning to social networking and user-generated content online to help it reach that audience.

Although Jeep has long been a proponent of online advertising, it is targeting a new demographic with the Compass compact SUV: young, urban adults, aged 22 to 30. Unlike its usual line of 4×4 vehicles, which appeal either to outdoor enthusiasts or baby boomers, the front-wheel-drive Compass is built for city streets, and priced lower than its other models. To court this entry-level car-buyer, Jeep has launched a new integrated marketing campaign.

Online media buys include home page buys on AOL, MSN, Yahoo, along with placements on entertainment, fashion and music sites like Daily Candy, MTV’s Real World, Yahoo Music and the Hispanic site Batanga. Jeep has also developed a number of user-generated content opportunities, both on its own sites and on social networks like MySpace and Facebook.

The first is a contest where users can create their own Jeep ad online. “Free Your Thoughts” will kick off next week with cinema ads, which have been created to look unfinished, Kuhnie said. Those ads will invite viewers to go online and create their own Compass ad, using Jeep-supplied music and images or their own content. Ads will be reviewed by Jeep, and then posted online through October, when users will vote for the best ads.

Another user-generated effort is Jeep Compass Karaoke, which will be promoted beginning this week with an e-mail blast and banners on MySpace and YouTube. Users can visit the site and create their own avatar of a character sitting in a Jeep Compass. They can then choose a song to make their character sing, and submit the result for peers to vote on.

The emphasis on user-generated media is driven by the target audience, according to Jay Kuhnie, director of Jeep communications. “These are young, Web-savvy consumers who like to have fun. I’m not sure baby boomers are as into this kind of thing,” Kuhnie said, referring to the target market for many of Jeep’s high-end SUVs.

Besides these online plans, Jeep has made TV, print and radio buys in both general market publications and those targeting African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans. It will also execute outdoor billboards, bus shelter advertising, painted walls, building wraps and buzz marketing at beaches and clubs.

“It’s a misunderstanding to think that young people today don’t watch TV or read magazines. They watch a lot of TV, they just do it while they’re surfing the Web, listening to music, and chatting with their friends. They read magazines that are important to their lifestyle activities,” Kuhnie said. “This audience epitomizes the convergence of media. They’re most easily reachable with a 360-degree approach.”

Four 30-second TV spots featuring “bobblehead” characters bouncing to hip-hop music will begin airing next week on network, cable and online media outlets. They will be shown on targeted programs on FOX, CW, UPN, ESPN, E!, MTV, Telemundo and Univision. TV spots will also be made available on the Jeep and Compass home pages, on video site YouTube, and on AOL’s new action sports network Lat34.com.

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