Jeep is among the few automotive brands in the world that enjoys an extremely enthusiastic and loyal fan following. The company likens itself to Apple and other brands with similarly diehard devotees and in turn is able to allow its customers to do much of its advertising on its behalf, according to PR Week.
Advertising Agency Iris Worldwide recently debuted its Participation Brand Index, which ranks companies based on the amount of engagement they receive from their respective customer communities. The index is based on five pillars of participation: passionate purpose, culture-shaping, category-innovating, people-powered, and distinctive character. Apple was found to be the strongest brand in regards to customer participation, with Amazon, Google, Netflix and BMW rounding out the top five. Jeep was the second highest ranked automotive brand behind BMW and was ranked 11th overall on the index.
“You walk past an Apple store and look at the buzz that they’ve created to just have people stand in line and wait to have their phones repaired. It’s just a phenomenon, right?” head of advertising at Jeep Kim House told PR Week.
A good example of Jeep’s customer-driven advertising tactics is the My Jeep Story campaign it debuted last year to mark its 75th anniversary. Jeep had originally explored the idea of getting a professional author to pen a book on the brand’s history, but instead figured it would be better and more appropriate to have their customers share their Jeep stories on social media using the hashtag #myjeepstory. The brand then took 75 of the best stories that were sent in and put them into a video compilation.
“Why would we let somebody else tell our story instead of those who actually own the brand?” House said.
House said Jeep’s brand strength is similar to Apples in that it gives owners the feeling they are joining something significant and not just buying a vehicle. Owning a Jeep can give people a sense of belonging, just like owning an Apple phone does, and this idea is exemplified in behaviours many Jeep owners exhibit, from waving at one another on the road to joining local Jeep clubs and going off-roading together.
We have become part of this culture of belonging,” House said. “I think everybody seeks that, honestly.”