Jeep Draws In Customers With Marvel Comics

DETROIT When it comes to the 2007 Jeep Patriot, it’s all about the kids, or geeks, whichever fits. Jeep and Marvel Comics are letting customers write their own comic strip, called the “Patriot Factor,” which features four protagonists, some bad guys, a bit of noir-style intrigue and, of course, a Jeep Patriot.

Starting at noon today, consumers can visit and propose their own storylines. Those who are selected as being particularly proficient in developing the drama will get co-author credit on a 28-page book of the completed tale, which will be published in late March or early April.

Readers can propose action and dialogue for each panel of the series. Submissions to the site will be reviewed by a team of Jeep and Marvel reps before anything goes online. The first 100,000 people who register at the site will receive a copy of the book.

The Patriot, a crossover that will arrive in dealerships in the next month, is aimed at educated young professionals in their early 20s to early 40s,(with a household income of $65,000 and up, skewing about 55-60 percent male. Teaming up with Marvel gives Jeep a perfect shot at guys in their 20s, which is Marvel’s core demographic.

In the past year, Marvel has also hooked up with fellow Chrysler badge Dodge in a deal that included product placement of the Caliber, a vehicle with roughly the same target as the Patriot, which was found on billboards and cityscapes in some of Marvel’s comics. The placement was part of a deal that included a larger ad buy for print spots in comic books.

Marvel is also currently involved with Mazda via an exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, where kids can step into a Marvel-designed “suit of armor” and lift a CX-7 CUV. The comic book promotion for the Jeep Patriot kicks off a larger campaign that will pick up steam through broadcast and print ads as the Patriot begins to show up on car lots. A Chrysler rep said that Marvel and the comic book characters from the “Patriot Factor” may appear in future creative for the campaign.

“At a base price of $14,985, the 2007 Jeep Patriot is designed to attract a younger customer who has always wanted a Jeep but couldn’t afford one,” Jay Kuhnie, director of Jeep communications, said in a statement. “While there have been online comic books before, ‘The Patriot Factor’ is unique because it uses product integration to help initiate and sustain a creative collaboration between artist and reader.”

Jeep spent $326 million on ads last year through November, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The first five pages of the story will go online today, with pages six and seven awaiting input from readers. The eighth page is also provided, giving some guidance as to the direction of the story, but most of it is left to consumer input.