Jeep Goes Extreme on NBC

Chrsyler marque teams with Peacock on sports show

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% Chrysler Group's Jeep brand and NBC are teaming up to launch an action-adventure sports series slated to air on Saturday afternoons in early 2004.

Dubbed "The Jeep Adventures Action Sports Series"(a working title), the program aims for active adults 18-40, "the adrenaline generation." The eight, one-hour shows each focus on an "extreme" activity, like big wave surfing, snowboarding, and motocross. "I like to call it Jeep's Wild World of Sports," said Jeff Bell, VP-marketing for Chrysler and Jeep, and one of the main catalysts behind the program. "You never knew what you were going to see on the old 'ABC's Wide World of Sports'—cliff-diving, kayaking, or bull-fighting. Our program…will go even deeper with profiles of athletes."

Jeep is investing $2.5 million in the program, according to an executive with knowledge. Bell was mum on the amount Jeep was spending. "We know that this is good value for our money. It is more competitive than the standard rates we found in the upfront this year," said Bell, referring to the broadcast primetime upfront, which sold for a record $8 billion. A spokeswoman said, "Jeep doesn't believe in just writing a check as a sponsor. We are actively involved in shaping and driving the entire program." Last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, Jeep spent $266 million on advertising.

The show's concept developed in recent months through collaboration between Jeep executives, its media-and-events marketing firm Aura360, and NBC. NBC is the show's executive producer and Aura360 is the general manager. "They will be the hub of the wheel. They will be doing the content. And NBC will also clearly be a producing partner," said Bell.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% Aura360 and Jeep executives are actively talking to additional marketers to sponsor the program. "They'll find it good advertising, not just to buy the 30 second spots, but also to be more integrated in the show," said Bell.

Jeep has long built its brand through sports-related associations; its "Jeep King of the Mountain" professional ski-and-snowboard TV series, is 11 years old. In October, Jeep teamed up with gear-maker Columbia Sportswear Co. to offer a limited-production car.

"If we get the ratings we hope to get, this could open up a whole new genre," said Bell of the NBC program. "Doing in-depth profiles of athletes, helping them become stars is a platform that doesn't really exist." Contributing: Jean Halliday

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