Tuki Ghiassi, executive creative director at Publicis Groupe Middle East on making the connection between Jeep and Morse code, and allowing minimalism to shine, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani
Celebrating the Middle East’s Jeep community, the latest campaign from the car company taps into the brand’s signature car grille, and its similarities with Morse code, to create a minimalistic spot that champions adventure.
Working with Publicis Group Middle East, the campaign features several scenic photographs of idyllic locations, all with Morse code embedded into the middle of each image. Looking to engage with people who have a curiosity for exploration, minimalist dots and dashes, accompanied by Jeep’s very own Morse code translator, are designed to catch the attention of people who are eager to solve the mystery. As such, ‘The Call of Adventure’ campaign has no call to action, simply opens the door to a new language for enthusiasts to seek out on their own.
Speaking to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani, Publicis Groupe Middle East’s ECD, Tuki Ghiassi shares how the team found the connection between Jeep grille and Morse code, made sure the images had an international feel and resisted the urge to over-explain.
LBB> What was the initial premise of this campaign? Tell us about where you began.
Tuki> It is extremely important for us, as brand custodians, to acknowledge the Jeep community and show them that they’re special to us. Few brands have a thriving consumer base that actively seeks each other out and meets up to celebrate what they have in common. So we set out to create a concept that is as unique in its communication as the bond that they share with each other.
LBB> When did you first make the connection between the Jeep’s grilles and Morse code?
Tuki> We have always been amazed at the powerful affinity our audience has with our brand. When people see a Jeep or the ‘Jeep Grille’ they instantly think of adventure. So, we started wondering what and how else the Jeep Grille could communicate. It led us to research various forms of communication.
The first connection we made was binary code, which consists of ones and zeros. It was when we explored Morse code that my CD, Anton Marais, and I looked at each other and our eyes lit up. A means of communication that just seems authentic to Jeep, because it’s a form of communication that is used in far-flung places where only a Jeep can take you. From there, we conducted a tonne of research, collected info and data and started the process of refining the perfect symbioses between visuals, copy and brand.
LBB> Where were the location images shot and how long did it take to capture the series of photos?
Tuki> We needed to turn around a global campaign in a short space of time, so there was simply no opportunity to plan a shoot across multiple countries in vastly different markets. So, we opted for existing images. We reviewed a multitude of photographers and portfolios, shortlisted hundreds of images, and started testing them. We also researched The Science of Awe to understand the physiological and psychological effects that certain images of nature can have on people. Finally, we tapped into our global network, speaking to co-workers in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America to understand which landscapes best connected with each region before settling on the seven expressions we have now.
LBB> Can you tell us about the Middle East’s Jeep community and how you wanted to connect with them?
Tuki> The Middle East Jeep community is among the strongest Jeep communities in the world. They live and breathe our brand values of adventure and discovery, and recognise our brand in an instant. They directly inspired the way we communicated with them. They don’t need a reason to go on an adventure. They’re always in search of it. That’s why we don’t use a traditional CTA in our campaign. Instead of saying ‘Learn more’, we expect people to go find the answer. When they do, it rewards their instincts of exploration. We aren’t really concerned about people who don’t chase the answers, because they’re not our target.
LBB> How long did it take to create the ‘Jeep Life is Calling’ decoding website?
Tuki> It took around one month from concept to execution, including time spent on testing and fixing bugs.
LBB> What was the vision for the website? What did you want the look and feel to be?
Tuki> When people saw our print, OOH, or social content and did an online search for answers, they were led to our microsite. So, we wanted them to be able to translate the Morse code messages right away. We even have a translate button on the website that allows visitors to instantly translate all Morse code on the site to English and vice-versa.
Secondly, we wanted to continue inspiring our audience to break away to the great outdoors by creating their own coded images. For the overall look and feel, we opted for a graphic and practical design we felt connects well with the simplicity of the rest of the campaign, while being very true to the Jeep brand.
LBB> Were there any unique challenges to overcome during this campaign and how did you work through them?
Tuki> Everyone in the agency, not just the Jeep team, was excited and got involved in exploring different directions. So, we had ideas coming in left and right. We had to continuously question and consider every suggestion and detail. I can’t tell you how many times we were debating whether we should put an explanatory copy line on the visuals. But it turns out that showing constraint throughout the process was key in maintaining the integrity of the idea.
LBB> What has the response from the Jeep community been like so far?
Tuki> We are absolutely thrilled. There are a few Jeep clubs in the region, all founded by loyal brand enthusiasts who are completely unaffiliated with the Jeep brand. The other day we discovered that Jeep club members started sharing our campaign amongst themselves and were communicating with each other in Morse code. One community member even printed t-shirts with Morse code messages on them. This is what every creative dreams of – for people to willingly engage with our ideas and work. Online and offline.
LBB> Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Tuki> My team once again learned the value of being open to sharing their ideas and allowing the freedom for other people to step into the process. The campaign is what it is today purely because of the creative generosity of a multitude of team members who jumped in, participated, improved, and evolved the creative, took ownership and executed. I am massively proud of all of them and of us as a Groupe.