I Bought a Jeep: Driving a Brand Out of Niche Territory

Case Study

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Jeep had always been a niche brand in Australia that was lacking relevance for most Australians and, in this cutthroat, highly competitive Australian car market, it had been fighting to hold ground, let alone grow market share. Between 1999 and 2009, Jeep sales remained flat, averaging 4600 unit sales per year, with little deviation.

Interestingly, at the same time, the SUV segment in Australia was growing at an average of more than nine percent from 2000. Jeep, however, was not profiting from this growth. Its cars were perceived as 4WD American army vehicles – an image not very attractive for the ‘footy mums’ of Australia. They didn’t want to drive a US army vehicle; they wanted something that fitted their needs and lifestyles. In fact, vehicles from the US have never succeeded in Australia, with Hummer trying in vain to crack the SUV market with only 12 Hummers registered as sold in November of 2009.

Therefore, in 2011, Jeep embarked on a new strategic journey to achieve growth. It stopped referring to the US origins of the car, and instead spoke directly to its ‘can do’ attitude, and the ‘Don’t Hold Back’ brand platform was developed. This original campaign, commencing in January 2011, prompted a moderate change in fortune for the brand. In a market driven by discounts and special offers, however, the brand platform was only part of the resurrection. A strong and memorable action-orientated campaign was needed.

This nine-page case study takes you inside one of the most effective automotive campaigns in Australian marketing – driving a brand out of niche territory and coining a household catchphrase.