JEEP SETS UP CAMP TO HELP BUILD STRONGER BONDS WITH OWNERS

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First it was Saturn, with a 1994 homecoming party that drew 44,000 to its Spring Hill, Tenn., assembly plant. Now Jeep is planning a three-day Colorado campout for owners, the latest example of growing automaker interest in relationship marketing.

Chrysler Corp. has mailed invitations to 500,000 Jeep owners to attend the first Camp Jeep, a three-day festival of music and outdoor activities starting Sept. 8 in Camp Hale, billed as "a spectacular mountain setting just 30 minutes from Vail."

Attendees will pay $195 per vehicle, covering a concert by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald and events that fit in with Jeep's outdoorsy image, such as four-wheel-drive trail tours.

The effort is being handled by Carlson Marketing, Troy, Mich., which also helped coordinate the 1994 Saturn Homecoming for the General Motors Corp. unit.

Arthur C. "Bud" Liebler, Chrysler's VP-marketing and communications, said Camp Jeep is an outgrowth of the automaker's attempt to develop relationships with owners that pay off in repeat sales.

Events like the campout reinforce Jeep's rugged brand image, developed over decades in advertising by Bozell Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., and its predecessors.

For several years, Chrysler has sponsored Jeep Jamborees, weekend ventures where a limited number of Jeep owners get together for four-wheel driving on out-of-the-way trails. There are 27 U.S. Jamborees scheduled this year.

"These are people who have a real affinity for their vehicle," Mr. Liebler said. "They spend a weekend with other Jeep owners, they climb rocks, they ford streams in an environmentally responsible way."

Because it takes place after the school year starts, the Jeep gathering isn't expected to attract the same size crowd as last June's Saturn Homecoming. If it's successful, Chrysler might make it an annual event, but change sites to make it more convenient for owners in different parts of the country, Mr. Liebler said.

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