Marketing Winners and Losers at the NY International Auto Show (Part 2)

The marketing spectacle known as the New York International Auto Show had more to chew on than one man’s rant about station wagons.

For this installment, I’d like to focus on one exhibit with its hits and misses.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present Camp Jeep.

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For the past 11 years (give or take), Jeep has given consumers the opportunity to experience their vehicles’ capabilities in a first-hand manner.  They chauffeur participants over an obstacle course that shows how well the Jeeps can attack slopes, uneven ground and other things that 95% of drivers will never encounter.  All cynicism aside, the exhibit really impresses upon participants the astounding performance of the fabled brand.

Even within this impressive showcase, some aspects stand out: 2 good and one not-so-good

The upshot

  • Good: data collection from participants before and after
  • Good: keeping the troops happy
  • Not-so-good: the world’s most pointless cell phone charging station

Collecting data for fun and profit

To take the ride, a participant needs to present a driver’s license or state ID and sign a waiver.  As part of the sign-up, Jeep asks for opinions about the Jeep brand including the ever-useful Net Promoter Score.  Of course, they also offer to send information on the brand or specific vehicles.

After the demo drive, the participant has the opportunity to fill out another survey, this time with a carry bag as an incentive.  Again, the survey asks for a Net Promoter Score and again it asks the participant if he or she would like to receive information from Jeep.

This before-and-after survey allows Jeep to measure the impact of the Camp Jeep experience directly.  Given that they keep running the exhibit, I suspect that the measurement shows a positive impact.  (Correct me if I’m wrong, Jeep!)

Civilians march on their stomachs, too

Always a popular exhibit, Camp Jeep sometimes suffers from lines that take over an hour.  As a kid favorite (including my research assistants), Camp Jeep could get really ugly really quick.  Jeep offers a simple, no-cost solution to this problem:

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The Yellow Roof Cafe, anyone?

It seems safe to say that Jeep invited a street vendor to set up shop so that people waiting in line could get a bite to eat.  Most interestingly, the vendor charges street prices instead of marking them up to take advantage of a captive audience.

A simple gesture like this one means that more visitors will have a positive experience at Camp Jeep.

Sad Trombone: Sirius XM Radio

Not everything at Camp Jeep worked as well from a marketing perspective.  Sirius XM partnered with Jeep, presumably to highlight the satellite radio option in the vehicles.  Not surprisingly, Sirius XM provides a DJ for the exhibit.

However, they also included this poorly-executed idea:

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Right idea, wrong place

In our mobile-everything world, public charging stations have become a welcome sight in airports, parks and shopping malls.  In fact, I would have gladly used this one as my own phone treats power like Stalin (rapaciously, but not well).

One problem: it’s at the end of the line.  It’s right before participants get to ride in the Jeeps.  You have the opportunity to power up for maybe two minutes, if that.  Why didn’t they put it at the front of the line, perhaps with lockboxes for security?  A waste of an opportunity to create a positive connection (yes, pun) with the consumer.

Overall, the participant leaves the exhibit with really positive feelings about the Jeep brand.  Well done.

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