Corvette vs. Jeep Grand Cherokee. Ads not product.

We wouldn’t expect one of the buff books to have a comparo between the 2011 Corvette and the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee but in marketing circles there’s an active discussion going on comparing their new advertising.

Chrysler’s new ad for the Jeep Grand Cherokee first appeared about a month ago and seeks to stir Americans’ pride in our heritage as builders and innovators:

Chevrolet’s new ad for Corvette appeared last week on the All-Star game and draws a parallel between our country’s space program and the 2011 Corvette:

Some critics have gone as far as saying that Chevrolet should not have aired the Corvette commercial because it was too similar to the Jeep spot.  There are certainly similarities between the executions.

Both commercials try to connect contemporary products to historically relevant American values.  Jeep draws a connection between our heritage as a “nation of builders, craftsmen, men and women for whom straight stitches and clean welds are a matter of pride” and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  Corvette draws a parallel between the scientists, engineers and visionaries of the NASA space program and those who built the 2011 Corvette.

Beyond the connection to American values, there are a number of executional similarities; for example, the use of historical footage and a narrative voice-over using a similar tone and manner.

It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jeep and Corvette should happen to have developed similar commercials, after all, they are uniquely American brands.  Both iconic in their own right and products of distinctly American ingenuity.  It makes sense that these brands would try to leverage their “American-ness.” Corvette and Jeep also have well-established positionings and stand for something in Americans’ minds.  Corvette is America’s high performance sports car and Jeep is the vehicle you can go anywhere and do anything in.

What I find most interesting, isn’t that these two great American automotive brands came up with similar commercials, but that one company chose to support its long-standing brand idea, while the other walked away.

The Corvette commercial clearly articulates Corvette’s positioning: unbridled, peddle-to-the-metal, all American sports car performance. “It’s nice to know that America still builds rockets” strikes a patriotic cord, but it is in perfect lock step with Corvette’s brand essence.

On the other hand, nowhere in the Jeep commercial do we see the idea that Jeep can go anywhere or do anything.  No notion that Jeep opens up possibilities that other vehicles don’t and represents that uniquely American sense of freedom.  Jeep is now emblematic of American craftsmanship, engineering and manufacturing: “the things that make us American are the things we make.”

So while we can debate whether or not the Corvette commercial is too similar to the Jeep commercial and whether or not they should have aired it, I think a much more interesting discussion is the wisdom of sticking with or walking away from an established long-term positioning.

Time will tell, but my guess is that Chevrolet will be glad that it aired the new Corvette commercial and Jeep less so.

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8 Responses to “Corvette vs. Jeep Grand Cherokee. Ads not product.”

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  7. Pam Haggerty says:

    I am so impressed with the first advertisement for the Grand Cherokee that aired last month. Finally your company aired an ad without all the fast paced, loud, say nothing advertisement. The music is totally relaxing, and I stop what I am doing just to listen and watch your ad. All the other commercials for cars I turn off or mute. It is about time that America is given credit for what we use to be before all the outsourcing.

  8. kevman says:

    Good analysis…..indeed, both are trading on Americana and heritage….what may exacerbate the similarities is that both spots are said to have been shot by the same director (this happens all too frequently). It’s a karaoke world. IMHO, the Jeep ad is a slightly better execution…a little more rich and a little more genuine idea….perhaps they play down GADA because the vehicle seeks to play more in the crossover space…the dirty little secret is that GADA isn’t as relevant today as it was in the era of economic boom, SUV proliferation and cheap gas…”SUV’s” today are surrogate minivans.

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