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Jeep Super Bowl Ad … a glimmer of environmental and social sensitivity?


“This Land is Your Land”

I’m one who generally mutes commercials and disengages from television viewing until the ad assault is over. However, I made an exception during the Super Bowl… and paid attention.


Because I was curious to see what would be presented in the once-a-year phenomenon when advertisers put their best ‘ad-foot-forward’ and pay high-stakes dollars to the Super Bowl sponsoring network to do so.

I appreciated the positive social comments many advertisers selected to elicit  feel-good responses from viewers: being a great dad, finding joy in being a girl, sharing love with others, building self-esteem  by stopping bullying…


The Jeep commercial grabbed my attention; and, in my opinion, was the best of all that aired Super Bowl Sunday.

I’ve never watched an SUV ad that shows respect, awe, and compassion for the land the vehicle traverses. An aggressive, mud-splashing, tear-through-the-wilderness, to hell with habitat theme is the stereo-type I would expect to see in this genre of advertisement.

What Jeep did was startlingly impressive… ad writers brought  Woody Guthrie’s infamous song in touch with the twenty-first century. As Woody’s song fit the politics of the time in the1940’s, so too does it in today’s world. Many folks were enraged that Jeep dared to include “this land is your land” photography that extended beyond the borders of the United States. Others pointed out social references to private property and hunger that Woody wrote about in two less well known verses … and cursed with profanity that Jeep should use the iconic American folksong in the context of global places and peoples.

Where  critics of the commercial fail is in not recognizing the significance of messages at the advertisement’s end:

  • “The World is a Gift. Play Responsibly,”
  • “Water is life. Help provide it.”

Granted… Fiat Chrysler is in the business of selling cars. With that said…

Is it possible that this is a commercial with a conscience and a purpose beyond selling cars?

Could this be a keystone corporate move to suggest and to model responsible environmental/ecological/social behaviors using an advertisement as the medium to deliver vital messages that affect the Earth’s well-being?

“This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” can be interpreted to mean land belonging to all organisms that depend on the world for survival. Play responsibly bestows a sense of stewardship that needs to happen all over the world if we hope to look forward to a future where Earth retains the ability to sustain life systems and resources.

The commercial suggests a starting place… water.org

Have you linked to their website? If you did, you would see-

Water.org is an international nonprofit organization that has positively transformed millions of lives around the world by providing access to safe water and sanitation. Water.org pioneers innovative, sustainable solutions to the global water crisis, giving people hope, children health and communities a future. The Jeep® brand is proud to support their work.

Is the Jeep Super Bowl Ad … a glimmer of environmental and social sensitivity?

You be the judge… I’d love to hear your reaction.

8 comments on “Jeep Super Bowl Ad … a glimmer of environmental and social sensitivity?”

  1. I’m so glad you posted on this topic. I was thinking the same thing!

    Maybe a shift is happening now, and finally, companies are realizing they had better be part of a solution and different future, and more mindful of the planet — it’s only our HOME, after all.

    I use to tell my daughter (she is an artist) that if she ever went into advertizing, I would be OK with that because images and art can be so powerful, and because ads are influential, it is a place where one can be a positive influence, instead of say, just getting people to eat more junk food.

    The Jeep ad with the lovely, iconic US images (and as you pointed out, no mud spewing like most SUV ads) was nice, and I was also surprised that they then showed images of other parts of the world, considering the song used for the ad refers to American land.

    But then it worked for me…the US leads the world economically, and because of Hollywood, maybe in attitudes & ideas / culture / and in putting ideas out into the world. So at least for me, I thought it was a good, and maybe part of the message too is that we are connected to the rest of the world. It’s hard to understand how that would be offensive.

    In general, I really liked the overall feel of most of the the commercials (esp. on girls self-esteem).

    Anyway, great post, and definitely a glimmer of hope! And if Jeep is targeting the “cultural creatives” (please Google or wiki if the term is not familiar) segment of American society, then it is a smart move to support organizations like water.org.

  2. Perhaps a sign that the “green” dollar is starting to be heard more loudly, and that businesses are realising that more consumers are concerned about the environment and looking to spend their money responsibly…

  3. I hope you are right about this. You would be surprised by the controversy this commercial sparked… very mixed responses. I was shocked at the profanity and knee-jerk reaction shared by many who were truly outraged that Woody Guthrie’s lyrics were extended to a global perspective. I saw some who reacted so negatively that they swore through social media to boycott Jeep.

    But, I’m also happy that many also responded very positively to the concept of this ad.

    Even if the businesses are forward-thinking, and responsible in their messages … there is much work to be done to get the audience ready to listen with critical thinking abilities…

  4. Lola Jane-
    I hadn’t heard the term “cultural creatives.

    Fascinating… and, oh my gosh, I do believe I fall into this group… learn something new every day!!!

    Have you read the Cultural Creatives book? I think this will go on my want to read list.

    You are probably on to something with your thoughts about the target audience. Interesting to know about this demographic strand in the American and European populations. Since advertising is ubiquitous, a trend in helping folks to play, work, and live with responsibility couldn’t hurt especially if industry would practice what they preach.

  5. To me, they and all the other SUV makers have a problem. Far too many SUVs never see an off road experience. They are just status symbols for dropping the kids off at school or weekend sport. So, a glimmer maybe, but nothing to get excited about until they bring our their solar powered model 😉

  6. Your thought about most SUVs not leaving the road is a good point, and also a good thing. Cleaner power source in affordable vehicles will be steps in the right direction, without a doubt.

  7. Jane — I think like you, a segment of people who follow your blog also fall in the “cultural creatives” category. I have not read the book but learned about the term as I was thinking through and developing Eco-friendly and biodegradable products.

    As long as companies live up to themes they promote — whether social or environmental issues — and if positive messages that improve conditions for people and planet somehow seep into and becomes part of the culture, then it make me stop thinking cynically (most of the time) about their intentions.

    For example if huge corporations like WalMart change packaging rules to reduce plastic packaging, or REQUIRES their producers and vendors to adhere to sustainable ways of doing business (e.g. from the source of their fish / tilapia, or if the wood used in products they sell were sustainably harvested), then can you imagine how big of a ripple and change that will create?

  8. That’s a good point. If corporations like WalMart took leadership roles in sustainable practices a VERY large ripple of positive environmental/social change could result, to be sure! Just how could that switch be made?! I wonder what change in “follow the dollar” will need to occur to provide incentive for large corporations to be enticed to adopt innovative changes in business practices that satisfy ten of the identification criteria to be “culture creatives.”

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with thinking cynically at times. I wish I knew how to do that more often … it’s helpful in considering/appreciating points of view. I tend to be fairly idealistic and depend on my husband to help me see the other side of the coin… so to speak. It’s easy, though, to be cynical about some of the claims or promises made by companies… if accountability, follow-through, and genuineness come up lacking. That’s true in politics, too. (a whole other topic about eco-friendly policy making…)


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