During halftime of Super Bowl 50 Jeep aired their “Portraits” ad – a tribute to the brand’s 75th anniversary. The commercial stood out amongst the rest due to its serious, simple, and timeless style. “Portraits” takes a look back on Jeep’s history through narration and images of individuals, events, and moments associated with Jeep since their launch in 1941. The first images pay homage to the original Jeep users, veterans, as well as the modern Jeep users, adventurers. It then transitions to historical events that Jeep has been a part of, most notably the landing on D-day. Intertextual references that allude to movies or actors linked with Jeep are also incorporated. These include Jurassic Park and Jeff Goldblum, the Terminator, Marilyn Monroe, Aretha Franklin, and many others. Photographs of average persons with differing ages, genders, and cultures are mixed in throughout the ad as well.
This ad was created by Cheil Worldwide’s Iris New York, who used many impactful production techniques. An original score was created for the commercial and follows the tempo of the image transitions. The score is simple, yet moving, and pairs nicely with the ad’s style. The poetic first person narration is also a key element of the ad. The use of the first person personifies the brand and makes the ad more personable. In addition, all images were in black and white, making them more sentimental and reminiscent. The images were also presented vertically, which is contrary to the typical horizontal landscape. The global executive creative director at Iris, Sean Reynolds, said this technique was used to focus in on the eyes of the person photographed.
While the ad is rather straight-forward each image does have a symbolic meaning. Whether it be an astronaut or laughing baby, the images symbolize a different demographic that Jeep has affected. Every photograph that depicts a different ethnicity demonstrates how Jeep transcends borders and is a worldwide company. The different age demographics that are shown express how Jeep not only has a meaningful past, but a place in the future. The “Portraits” ad uses the images themselves to symbolize the widespread affect the company has had and will continue to have.
These images are also used as a psychoanalytic technique. Each image creates a sense of nostalgia for the viewer, reminding them of a moment in history or a memory of their own. Every picture allows them to reflect on the amazing things that, not only Jeep, but, humanity has accomplished in the past 75 years. In addition, the commercial creates a sense of unity. The labels we use to define one another often create a sense of isolation. However, by incorporating all different lifestyles into the ad, Jeep creates a strong sense of belonging. The ad concludes by displaying the words “We don’t make Jeep, You do.” Each viewer leaves with a desire to become part of the global community and create their own story within it.
The Jeep brand is owned by Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles and was created in 1941 as a war vehicle. “Portraits” is just the launch of a yearlong campaign which will celebrate the brand’s 75th anniversary. We can expect more creative commercialization of Jeep then, since “Portraits” is not the first of its kind. Last spring Jeep advertised their 2015 Jeep Renegade using a music platform based on the X Ambassadors song “Renegades”. These creative techniques seem to be paying off with Jeep sales up 15% in January and the “Portraits” ad winning the Super Clio award. “Portraits” was a true success and helped kick start a major year for Jeep.
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