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Used or Honored? Jeep and the Super Bowl

Those of us who don’t care about football know that the Super Bowl is really only about one important thing: the commercials.

And with a cost per 30 seconds of between $3.8 and $4 million, the networks and the advertisers know it, too.

Which is why when my Facebook and twitter feed blew up about a Jeep/USO commercial narrated by Oprah Winfrey, I knew I was in for a tear-jerker. (Full disclosure: I prefer to catch-up on the commercials after the game is over … and enjoy a good book during it. So I did not see the commercial when it first aired).

But some people ignored the tears and went straight to annoyance that the military was being used for advertising. While the comments were isolated, at least one of my Facebook friends said “Really Jeep? Way to use and abuse for your own gain.”

(If you haven’t seen the commercial, I included it at the bottom of the post).

Set to video of homecomings and reunions, this is a transcript of the narration:

“There will be a seat left open. A light left on.  A favorite dinner waiting. A warm bed made.

There will be walks to take. Swings to push. And baths to give …

On your block. At your school. In your church. Because in your home. In our hearts. You’ve been missed.

You’ve been needed. You’ve been cried for. Prayed for.

You’ve been the reason we push on.

Half the battle is just knowing. This is half the battle.

Because when you’re home, we’re more than a family. We’re a nation that is whole again.”

When I asked my husband what he thought of the commercial he wasn't angry or really even annoyed -- but he said say  “Jeep. I like Jeep. This is about the last year you can get on the troop tribute bandwagon.”

And maybe it is a bandwagon. We’ve discussed before the public relations value of supporting the troops -- and our distaste for when we are used for gain, political or otherwise. It certainly gives me warmer-fuzzier feelings for a company when I know that they have taken a few minutes (and a couple million dollars in advertising) to remember my family.

Jeep just announced a new USO partnership program called “Operation S.A.F.E. Return” through which they plan to assist returning troops by donating money, vehicles, launch a veteran employment initiative and offer a Jeep military discount.

As I wrote this post I found my friends weren’t the only ones mulling this question. Overall the reaction seems to be just like mine -- positive and with an empty box of Kleenex. I’d like to the think that Jeep, whose presence in the commercial was only really noticeable at the end, really is using this as a way to give back to the military community and not as a marketing ploy.

But what do you think? Opportunistic marketing ploy or genuine troop love? Did the Jeep Super Bowl commercial use or honor the military?

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