First aired during the opening ceremonies of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, Bozell’s “Snow Covered” Jeep ad completely broke the mold. Shot in various locations across North America, including Colorado, Wyoming and the Upper Northwest Territory, “Snow Covered” completely redefined expectations for automotive advertisements.
The spot features something tunneling beneath the snow, crossing a vast and desolate mountain range, bathed in the multicolored glow of the setting sun. The tunneling object is never exposed and actually remains undefined until the last seconds of the ad, when we see twin taillights light up at a partially submerged stop sign and then turn left. The car is only identified as a Jeep on the final title card that flashes across the screen.
This ad played on Jeep’s desired image as a rough-and-tumble brand that made the most rugged on-road vehicles.
The ad was immediately lauded and was awarded with the prestigious Grand Prix award for the world’s best advertisement at the 1994 International Advertising Film Festival in Cannes, France, becoming the first auto ad to ever do so.
Although the ad was recognized for its remarkable special effects, many of which eschewed CGI in favor of practical setups, it has been most credited for its approach to the Jeep brand as a whole. While most ads only receive major airplay for a few months, “Snow Covered” was shown for the better part of a decade after its release. It’s genius lies in not just its sale of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which ended up being the only domestic compact SUV to post increases in both sales and total market share in 1994, but of the Jeep brand as a whole.
Unusually for a car ad, the spot doesn’t focus on the particular model being sold. In fact, there isn’t a single reference to the Grand Cherokee anywhere in the entire commercial. Rather, Jeep’s almost impossible rugged nature is highlighted. Similar to major brand-boosters like Chrysler’s “Imported From Detroit” campaign, which was in fact inspired by this same ad, “Snow Covered” not only introduced the American public to a new model, but also redefined an entire brand.
“Throwback Thursday” (#TBT) is Tier10lab’s look back at some of our favorite automotive advertising campaigns. #TBT runs the last Thursday of each month.