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Responses by Tuki Ghiassi, executive creative director; Anton Marais, creative director; and Stuart Randall, business director, Publicis Groupe.

Background: The Middle East automotive industry is seeing an increasing number of players in the adventure 4x4 segment, which is a space that Jeep occupies with its Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Gladiator. This campaign was created with the intention of retaining existing Jeep customers and attracting new customers with an adventurous mindset.

Design thinking: As advertisers, we always look for the unique selling point. Today, there are other vehicles that compete in the same space as Jeep, so we needed to dig deeper to find what makes Jeep different. We turned to the Jeep community for answers. During hours of interviews with actual Jeep owners, we discovered that Jeep is a way of life for them. They are extremely passionate about their vehicles. They love customizing their Jeeps and giving them nicknames. And they love being part of an active community of like-minded individuals. There are many unofficial Jeep clubs in the Middle East that are not affiliated with the Jeep brand. They’ve simply been established by passionate Jeepers who love to share the Jeep experience with other lovers of the off-road.

We came to the realization that Jeep as a company builds very capable cars, but the passion comes from the Jeep community. Jeep creates the machines, but Jeepers give them soul. Jeep is the most customizable care in the world, which gives people the freedom to express their personalities, creativity and passion. The result is thousands of different Jeeps. So, we created a campaign that celebrates the Jeep community and their personalized cars. The authentic stories we mined from the community shaped the film script especially, helping us bring a richer dimension to the campaign mantra: “We don’t make Jeep. You do.” Our clients were bold enough to put out a campaign that admitted Jeep isn’t only made by a company—it’s made by adventurers.

Challenges: Bringing the campaign to life was a meticulous process that required very tight collaboration internally between everyone in the agency, but also between the agency and all the Jeep community members. It wasn’t a conventional production process; we were working with people outside our industry who had no experience with it, didn’t always check their e-mail and were often only available on weekends.

Our producers persevered, and after hundreds of meetings, we ultimately ended up with thousands and thousands of videos and photos of Jeep 4x4s of every kind. We poured through all of them to identify the most unique-looking vehicles. Keep in mind that the content had not been shot by professional directors—these were homemade photos and videos shot on smartphones and GoPros outdoors in harsh conditions—so we had to discard a lot of content that was not up to par. Most of the Jeep community aren’t microinfluencers as we know them; these are regular people who happen to love the brand. We simply placed their content at the forefront of our campaign.

Favorite details: We wanted the campaign to include Jeepers from all countries in the Middle East. For logistical reasons, photoshoots were not an option, so we opted for CGI instead. We asked each Jeep owner to send us hundreds of photos of their vehicles from every angle. Our CGI partner then re-created these vehicles perfectly, from the smallest wheel nut to prominent customized features such as bullbars, LED lights in the seven-slot grille and custom paint jobs.

New lessons: We conducted hours of interviews with each of the shortlisted Jeepers to learn everything we could about their cars. On a functional level, we wanted to understand what modifications they had made. But the most interesting thing to learn was the emotional connections these people have with their cars. In the process, we discovered that many owners give their Jeep a unique name that they choose based on a personality they believe the vehicle to possess. Sometimes, the vehicle is an extension of the driver’s personality. Sometimes, the vehicle takes on a life of its own.

As we started getting familiar with the vehicles and their stories, we started calling them by their names and memorizing each one’s personality. Ariana is a feisty Wrangler. She’s quite different from the rough-and-tumble boys Dark Knight and Rockcrusher. Then there is Tornado, a Jeep Gladiator who’s a curious traveler with a lot of stamina. He’s currently on a road trip from Dubai to China and back again.

Visual influences: Since each car has a different personality, we wanted that to shine through in the various visuals. We worked with a typographer to capture the identity of each vehicle in English and Arabic. We also asked the drivers to provide photos of their favorite off-roading destinations in the Middle East so we could create a world in each visual that was true to their vehicle’s character.

Above all, you’ll notice something distinct in these visuals: Most car ads showcase pristine vehicles in a traditional three-quarter position. We decided to show the muddy, scratched-up Jeeps of actual people. We opted for unusual placements to show off their capabilities and modifications. We broke the category convention, playing up our concept isn’t only made by a company—it’s made by people.

Specific project demands: The idea was to showcase the Middle East Jeep community and their cars to the world. We communicated across nine countries in the region, which posed a mammoth production challenge. We couldn’t imagine how we would be able to include people from nine countries in film and photoshoots. In the end, we opted for CGI for our visuals, so we could involve Jeepers from all over the Middle East.

For the film, we took a wild decision to use user-generated content instead of filming. Even though we initially thought of this solution due to production constraints, it turned out to be our best creative decision. We also included Instagram usernames of the vehicle owners in our visuals, allowing anyone to go see authentic Jeep content made by fans of the brand. User-generated content made by ordinary people instantly became Jeep branded content. It let viewers see the Jeep brand unfiltered through the eyes of loyal customers. The passion of real Jeepers became our greatest advertisement ever.


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