Jeep Markets New Compass to U.S. Millennials

  • Long-awaited supply of compact model triggers ad campaign
  • Marketer behind Super Bowl spots to tailor message by market

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV finally has the model it’s been missing to navigate a comeback after months of struggling in the U.S. market.

The Italian-American automaker has built enough supply of the 2017 Jeep Compass to begin a marketing campaign geared toward millennials starting Thursday. The compact sport utility vehicle will fill a major void, replacing both an outgoing version and the discontinued Patriot model.

The changeover to the new Compass has contributed to sales declines every month this year both for Fiat Chrysler and Jeep, its top-selling brand. Olivier Francois, the ad guru behind Super Bowl spots featuring Eminem, Clint Eastwood and Bob Dylan, has prepared a 60-second spot called “Recalculating” to promote the SUV to young people.

“The idea of this commercial was to capture life’s unpredictability and speak of our Jeep Compass through the lens of the internal compass,” Francois said in a phone interview. “Nothing is linear for this customer; nothing is to be taken for granted.”

The brand that essentially invented the SUV has been missing out on booming demand in the segment. Jeep sales dropped each of the last six months since Fiat Chrysler stopped making the Patriot and the old version of the Compass, including a 17 percent plunge in April.

With Jeep struggling, Fiat Chrysler lost market share each of the last seven months, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

“When Jeep is down, Fiat Chrysler is down,” Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Cox Automotive, said in an email.

Read more: The quintessential SUV brand misses out on segment’s surge

Fiat Chrysler has improved the Compass with upgraded interior materials, added rear-seat legroom and better fuel economy. It’s also a global vehicle, produced in Mexico, Brazil, China and India.

The ad debuting Thursday opens with an almost upside-down cityscape backed by a dissonant, techno-sounding track and goes on to show young adults navigating career and life choices. It will air on primetime shows including “Modern Family” and “The Bachelorette” and as a 3D in-theater spot. Fiat Chrysler also plans to give the Compass prominent placement at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival next month in Tennessee.

The spot will need few changes for Europe, where the vehicle is aimed at a slightly older consumer, more in the age range of 32 to 40, Francois said. In Brazil, Compass is positioned as more of an upscale vehicle for a mature customer.

“We’re cooking another great commercial” for the Asia-Pacific region and China, he said, though that ad is still under wraps.

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