Jeep and USA Basketball have always shared a drive for excellence. Always honing their capabilities and working to overcome every obstacle, both define supreme performance and unparalleled ability across the globe. To commemorate it’s partnership with USA Basketball, Jeep set up shop in the heart of New York City earlier this month to celebrate the game with it’s “Power By Design” event. Teaming up with New York Knicks All-Star and Olympic gold medalist and team member Carmelo Anthony and USA Basketball legend and former Knicks All-Star Allan Houston for the day, Jeep’s Head of Advertising Kim Adams House and Melo spoke with Life + Times about the evolution of the Chrysler’s marquee, its rugged-yet-refined style and the synergy between the two iconic brands.
Life + Times: Nothing says Americana more than the Jeep Wrangler, except perhaps Team USA. How was Jeep brand able to forge this partnership?
Kim Adams House: This vehicle has a long history of being a part of the American fabric. It’s been kind of the stalwart of bringing our troops to safety in war times. It’s been a vehicle that clearly connects with people because it’s been an exciting and iconic component of our brand that allows us to do different things and talk to different people and partner with different partners that align with us.
L+T: What other partnerships has Jeep entered before?
KAH: In the past, we’ve done partnerships with Call of Duty, when we’ve designed a unique vehicle that showcases our brand, our nameplate, and the sure-footed capability that the vehicle delivers. Our tag line at that time was, and has been, the toughest vehicle in the world– any world. And it’s actually one that transcends the vehicle mindset into the gaming mindset and that’s when you see the great synergy between two brands– like we have here with USA basketball. Two iconic brands in pursuit of greatest.
L+T: Melo, as a member of Team USA, what is your overall perception of the new Wrangler?
Carmelo Anthony: The Jeeps are dope. They’re fly. I think for them to team up with USA Basketball was a great thing for them. But everyone is riding Jeeps though. You can go anywhere and people riding in Jeeps with the tops off and it’s a cool thing. It’s a hip thing. And it’s only going to get better.
L+T: Jeep was a staple in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The Wrangler has made a comeback of sorts. Speak on the brands resurgence in the market place.
KAH: The brand has been on an incredible ride right now and we have just hit, with the Wrangler in particular, the strongest May sales ever and we done it through a number of things. Having a strategic effect in actually talking to different consumers but then designing vehicles that actually appeals to them.
L+T: Jeep has a long history of being the frontrunners in the SUV market. Now we see most of the luxury automakers, from Lamborghini to Porsche, are coming out with sport utility vehicles. How does Jeep stay competitive but authentic when the market becomes saturated?
KAH: With our SRT-8 Grand Cherokee that has incredible styling and performance, the Wrangler with the new SRT-V6 engine, this has been a vehicle that has rugged elements that people have embraced, now the drivability, the ride and handling, the power and performance has been dramatically improved. Those are the kind of things we know that we need to do to respond to the needs of our consumers and that’s what our attention has been, to make sure we develop a line of SUV’s that you can stand against any competitive brand and you can see the strength of our brand overall. Most recently in 2011, we launched a 2012 Jeep Compass with a redesigned front end, which actually mirrors the front end of the Grand Cherokee. The theme line behind that campaign was to connect with a younger demographic and the way that we did that was by leveraging the heritage of the Grand Cherokee with the Wrangler. Grand Cherokee with iconic beauty and the Wrangler with legendary capability, and the theme of that campaign was the evolution of a legendary bloodline. That vehicle at its peak during the launch campaign hit more than 500 percent improvement year after year. Which is an incredibly phenomenal in this competitive market place.
L+T: What’s next for Jeep?
KAH: I would be remiss not to speak on the most rewarded SUV ever, which is the Grand Cherokee. Last year, we introduced the tag line “The Most Reward SUV Ever,” and it’s truly is. So, it’s not just us saying that, these are third party endorsers who are saying that this vehicle, from its incredible interior design to its capability to its exterior design, really delivers an overall package that consumers relate to. It really has not left a single stone unturned. So in order for us to really connect with multicultural consumers and revitalize this brand and broaden our reach to all consumers, we have to be able to dimensionalize our brand and connect with them in a positive way and connect with them through their passion points– and basketball is one, gaming is another, action sports is another one and capability and off-road is another one.
L+T: Melo, did you get one for your birthday?
CA: We shall see…