Jeep debuted a Super Bowl commercial that is so simple and beautiful and smart, I hope they run it at every Super Bowl forever.(This ran only in select markets, so if you watched the game and didn’t see it, this is why.)
This ad is even better in context of what Jeep means to America. At the start of World War II, officers of the War Department solicited bids for the production of all-terrain vehicles that could be used for reconnaissance missions. These military leaders wanted something more agile than a tank, but much less expensive. They needed these cars fast, so fast, in fact, that they asked 135 automotive companies to design a model, and only 2 companies submitted prototypes. The winning company, Willys-Overland, created the first Jeeps. (Ford Motor Company was later awarded a Jeep contract as well, because Willys was too small to meet the military’s demand for the vehicles.) At this point, the Jeeps weren’t called Jeeps – they were Willys MBs and Ford Model GPWs.
During WWII, thousands of these cars were painted with the letters G.P. – G for government, and P denoting specifics about the wheel height. Legend holds that soldiers first started using “Jeep” as slang for G.P., though the president of Willys-Overland said he was the first to coin the term. He applied for a trademark in 1943, while his Jeeps were still being used in war. (The word “Jeep” had appeared in other contexts before, even as early as WWI, but had never been widely used, nor applied to one type of vehicle.)
Jeeps have been used by the military ever since. They were joked about in Korea, where soldiers said the name stood for “just enough essential parts.” The cars were part of military culture, and they would become part of civilian life as soldiers returned from overseas. Willys-Overland started marketing the Jeep to people in the construction and farming industries even before WWII ended.
The Super Bowl commercial does not tell you this story.
When One Republic sits down at the piano and sings the first line of the national anthem, our minds naturally continue the rest of the words. Even though they aren’t sung – we hear them. We see the image and match it to the lyrics that we hear only in our minds.
Jeep got millions of Americans to sing the national anthem together, in unison, in our heads. For one minute and fifty-five seconds we all participated in this. That’s the magic of the ad.
Jeep could have told us how American they are. Instead, they told us how American we are. It doesn’t whether you sit, stand, or kneel during the Star Spangled Banner. When the song plays, you still know all the words.