Used or Honored? Jeep and the Super Bowl


Those of us who don’t care about football know that the Super Bowl is really only about one important thing: the commercials.

And with a cost per 30 seconds of between $3.8 and $4 million, the networks and the advertisers know it, too.

Which is why when my Facebook and twitter feed blew up about a Jeep/USO commercial narrated by Oprah Winfrey, I knew I was in for a tear-jerker. (Full disclosure: I prefer to catch-up on the commercials after the game is over … and enjoy a good book during it. So I did not see the commercial when it first aired).

But some people ignored the tears and went straight to annoyance that the military was being used for advertising. While the comments were isolated, at least one of my Facebook friends said “Really Jeep? Way to use and abuse for your own gain.”

(If you haven’t seen the commercial, I included it at the bottom of the post).

Set to video of homecomings and reunions, this is a transcript of the narration:

“There will be a seat left open. A light left on.  A favorite dinner waiting. A warm bed made.

There will be walks to take. Swings to push. And baths to give …

On your block. At your school. In your church. Because in your home. In our hearts. You’ve been missed.

You’ve been needed. You’ve been cried for. Prayed for.

You’ve been the reason we push on.

Half the battle is just knowing. This is half the battle.

Because when you’re home, we’re more than a family. We’re a nation that is whole again.”

When I asked my husband what he thought of the commercial he wasn’t angry or really even annoyed — but he said say  “Jeep. I like Jeep. This is about the last year you can get on the troop tribute bandwagon.”

And maybe it is a bandwagon. We’ve discussed before the public relations value of supporting the troops — and our distaste for when we are used for gain, political or otherwise. It certainly gives me warmer-fuzzier feelings for a company when I know that they have taken a few minutes (and a couple million dollars in advertising) to remember my family.

Jeep just announced a new USO partnership program called “Operation S.A.F.E. Return” through which they plan to assist returning troops by donating money, vehicles, launch a veteran employment initiative and offer a Jeep military discount.

As I wrote this post I found my friends weren’t the only ones mulling this question. Overall the reaction seems to be just like mine — positive and with an empty box of Kleenex. I’d like to the think that Jeep, whose presence in the commercial was only really noticeable at the end, really is using this as a way to give back to the military community and not as a marketing ploy.

But what do you think? Opportunistic marketing ploy or genuine troop love? Did the Jeep Super Bowl commercial use or honor the military?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Karen

    Question I’ve been asking – tribute or what we call “reunion porn”. the USO partnership may have made it less “porn”.. but I’m still ambivalent. Do I like our community to be used as advertising fodder? no, not really. but reminding the country that we are still fighting a war? yes.

    • jenschwab

      I am split the same way. In the end, I don’t think the message (wording) was clear enough to communicate to a general population that is so detached from the actual process of war. In the end, I feel like anything military-related in advertising is such lip service when most Americans would be surprised by the fact that we are still fighting a war.

      • Robert Abbott

        Maybe if these news reporters from ABC, CBS and NBC read body counts like was done during the era of Walter Kronkite, public might remember this country is still fighting a war. George Stephanopoulos does include casualties on This Week but how many people are watching on Sunday morning?

      • spouse2000

        No one needs to know what it is like being a mil family just as mil families don’t know what it is like to live in a civilian family. Both have pros and cons.

      • Karen

        data from Joining Forces – over 100,000 jobs for vets and family members. and initiatives on licensing for military spouses there are over 30 states who are on board with making transferring licenses between states easier for milspouses.

  • Susan Freemyer

    Loved the awareness it brought to our Service Members and families. We are fighting in a War and the passing of the former Presidents dog got more press than our Service Members. There is something wrong with that. This is my personal opinion as a Spouse only.

  • MrsD

    With the origins of JEEP being military, they probably have more right to “use” the service members and their families than anyone else. Despite that, yes, this is all for advertising fodder and to sell more product. If it weren’t, they would do all they say they will without publicizing it. Nearly ever for-profit in the world uses their “good works” as self-promotion and to generate sales. It’s the way of free enterprise. Don’t like the ad, don’t buy Jeep. If sales drop instead of rising, no ads like this will be made again. It’s really that simple to vote with your pocketbook. *shrug*

  • Wife

    They are promoting a new partnership with the USO… That is what they were advertising IMO. No where did it say “Buy a Jeep” and when you go to their page it directs you to donate to the USO. It sounds like a great program that will benfit a wide range of service members and their families. Anything that reminds the 99% of the sacrafices the 1% make is a step in the right direction. There were no ads like this after Vietnam… We are luckier than we care to admit.

  • Mickey

    There are only about 5 years of my life when I wasn’t “military” – dependent, member, spouse and parent. I just retired after 33 years, and have seen the pendulum swing bother directions in regard to how this nation treats it’s military members. My dad would hitch hike home, and get more rides if he wore his uniform. The first 23 years of my career we did not dare to wear our uniforms in public for fear of being spit on, or worse, physically and verbally attacked. Did you know that for a short time after the Viet Nam war males were authorized to wear a wig OVER their long hair ? Since Desert Storm, I chose not to wear my uniform publicly for a very different reason. It was almost embarrassing having so many people thank us for our service. I am glad to have seen the tide turn when America once again honors and loves it’s military , and not connect them to the political agenda. Considering the cost of the 2 minutes ad, where others had their 30 seconds, I will accept it as a tribute and not a selling agenda. “Put your money where your mouth is. ” This time will end, so for now, revel in it. Don’t look for insult where none is intended.

    • Judy
    • Papa Jon

      Hear, Hear, I like your response. I was one of those Vietnam Era Vets who served my time in Europe, not because I requested it, but where I was sent. Anytime I see a tribute to the military, it takes away some of the pain that my fellow brothers and sisters in uniform endured.
      PS I went back in the reserves and retired with 26 years.

  • Frederick

    I am a Marine Vietnam veteran, 100% disabled. The advertisement sent a positive message for and about our troops and their families. The fact Jeep sponsored it is not a negative or bad thing.

    In my era we veterans were constantly accosted and reviled. Thank God that is not the issue today, by MOST Americans and American companies. (Although Obama gave Jeep to the Italians) Soon Jeep’s are to be made in Italy and China. Take the positive from the message and let it go.

    After all, what was General Motors message for the troops???????

    Go figure.

    “The problem with Socialism, is that eventually you run out of other peoples money.” – – Margaret Thatcher PM

  • Rodger

    I liked the ad for the miltary’s sake. I am a Vietnam vet and my son and daughter in law are in the Navy. Thought it was funny hough, the Jeep’s we drove were made by Ford and other companies, never by Jeep/

  • Rich

    It be nice if jeep wouldn’t ship their jobs to CHINA so our troops would have a job when they return. Now that would be patriotic. Romney warned us that they were shipping their jobs to china but the media called him a liar. Turns out the media is the real liars!!

    • Rich
    • Rich
  • redprincess

    Loved the commercial but Opra should have been replaced with Clint Eastwood

    • Bill Bill

      Here are some other choices;
      “Dennis Haysbert ” from “The UNIT” to do the commerical.
      Second choice would have been “Tom Selleck”
      and last,but not least “Paul Harvey”
      Oprah has voiced her negative opinions against the Military too many times as far as I am concerned.

  • redprincess

    The commercial seemed to be more about the military men and woman and not so much shoveing Jeeps in your face – I thought the commercial was thought provoking – except I already said – should have canned Opra and got Clint Eastwood – He is unquestionably Pro America and Pro military

  • Smitty

    Jeep should have used Clint Eastwood to narrate the commercial. A real American!
    The name “Jeep” came from its service in WWll known as a “general purpose (gp)” vehicle. At least one of the stories behind its name. It’s a name associated with America because of its value to the military over the years.

  • Tater

    I didn’t even know it was a Jeep commercial till the commercial was nearly over…. What I saw was USO, troops and USA.

    I think the fact that Jeep spent MILLIONS of dollars to promote veterans, the military and the USO instead of buying big name actors and half-naked women speaks volumes.
    Oprah? ehhhh not so much.

    I’m a 28 year Vet with a Jeep. I loved it. Almost as much as I love my Jeep.
    Ask any PFC or AB stuck in an airport:: who loves you? Only the USO.

  • Ken

    Come on guys…look at old WW2 magazine adverts. All features military and how the company was contributing to the war effort. As for Jeep if the belt way bandits could be outflanked a robust Jeep vehicle would be ideal for everyday work on base instead of HUMVEES. I love my 1998 Wrangler with 145K on it.
    Jeeps, apple pie, what are we fighting for. Let’ all get a life and stop looking under and over every rock for something to protest. MMCS(SS)(SW) USN Ret.

  • Vietnam Combat Vet

    Forty-Six years ago, I was a lonely Private at Fort Ord California, just waiting for orders to ship over to Vietnam after A.I.T. (Advanced Infantry Training). With just a couple of dollars in your pocket, there wasn”t much to do to pass the time until I discovered the USO. It gave us a place to hang out, read or listen to music. You could do things and activities that reminded you of home and it didn’t cost anything. Today, I give back to the USO and have for many years. Forget the politics about the commercial and think about the American traditions and values that Jeep and USO brings out.

    • tom
    • Kristie

      Thank you for your service to our country! I love what you wrote and was once, too, stationed in Monterey, CA. Thank you, again! Kristie & Family

  • I always wore my uniform after commissioning in 1968–rarely got negative reactions. I think this is a wonderful piece and more effective with Oprah doing it. We are and hopefully will stay one country.

  • Arty278

    Two of the things that the soldiers rely on the most, USO and Jeep! Those two have earned the right to be associated with the troops!

  • Bill

    Jeep, Ford, GMC, and numerous other companies are representative of who we are as a nation. They employ millions of Americans and have provided our military with the best vehicles to handle any mission. People are totally ignorant of history and the role our industry has played in our success in conflict. If they want to use a commercial to honor our military GOD bless them.

  • WMEC904

    I saw no difference in this ad and the one with Paul Harvey’s Speech, “God created a farmer’ in the Dodge truck commercial, other than one referenced the USO and military and was Narrated by the big O. The other supported the American farmer and farm family and was narrated by the late great Paul Harvey and let’s face it, No one could ever hold a candle to Paul Harvey! And in my opinion Paul Harvey was by far the best commercial of the super bowl. Though both were good, not even big O herself could ever compete with Paul Harvey. I do agree with a previous comment that by having her narrate was in political support of the President on her part. And that is her right to do so, and if people let her sway their opinion just because they like her, she has accomplished her mission. If people run out and start buying Jeeps like crazy just because O narrated she has accomplished her mission.

  • Midnite Rambler

    That commercial left a warm place in my heart. I just don’t think we need to go beyond what we viewed. It was a very nice image of America welcoming home its troops after long and stressful service.

    But if we do wish to to look a bit further, we see that a major corporation put it on the Super Bowl. It took a lot of $ to do that. It would be nice if many other corporations did things like that. They could have just spent the money touting the features of the cars they want us to buy. I’m not going to buy a Jeep because of it, but it was a nice moment on the Super Bowl.

  • spouse2000

    I thought is was using the military.

  • Mike

    Liked the commercial, although Gary Sinese or Clint Eastwood would have been a better voice choice. And what is meant that the country is whole again? Can we not be “whole” while fighting evil?
    Mike 20 year Navy Veteran and father of a sailor.

  • Roger

    Ask the widows, there were a few on FB that hated it.

    • Debra Weakley

      Absolutely Roger…. It cut them to the core!

  • Debra Weakley

    I liked the add, but it made me think. After talking with a friend who lost her Soldier. She hated it and if you look at it from the view of a Red Star Family… The meaning completely changes! I think there should have been a comment made about our Heroic Soldiers who paid the ultimate price! The who commercial should have been looked at … I mean READ THE ADD and put yourself in the position of a loved one whose Soldier didn’t return! Cuts like a knife!

  • Rosalee

    so do you also think Budweiser USED the victims of 9/11 in their super bowl ad in 2011?
    Just stop seeing a bogeyman under every bed.

    • Debra Weakley

      Well, that was rude. Rosalee.

      Jenifer, your husband is retired…not buried.

  • Jenifer
  • Jennifer
  • Debra

    Mil Spouse…and Jeep owner for 17 years. I guess some can not look past a discount to see how this add could impact a Soldiers family that was KIA. I really don’t care if it goes to charity, I am talking about if YOU were to loose a son, husband, daughter and had to listen to the, ” there is an empty seat and we are not a Nation until they come home”! KNOWING FULL WELL THEY ARE NOT COMING HOME! Think about it from one of the THOUSANDS THAT HAVE BEEN KILLED. So happy you all got a discount!

    • Jennifer

      Everyone who is a military spouse, parent or child losses a part of life when the one they love decides to serve our country. No harm intended, did not buy the Jeep because of the discount. I am a widow of a police officer killed in the line of duty and I am now the wife of a disabled veteran, I do see all sides. I try not to allow the polical correctness of this world drag me down, in a world when someone is offended by everything that is said by someone we will soon become a nation of silence for fear to speak.

      I have compasion for anyone who has lost a family memeber be it in the Military, or elsewhere…all lives are equal.

      • Debra Weakley

        I am sorry to hear you lost your husband. I worked for a PD for years and I know how close everyone gets. I was just trying to get a point across and all I got was special Jeep, Charity, discount.
        We have lost too many for it to go in noticed and as a widow of a Police Officer, I would think out of all….you would be able to see that it could be hurtful. Not here to argue. I, like you have an opinion.

  • Debra Weakley

    I am so happy you all got a discount on your Jeeps! I am a Mil spouse and a Jeep owner for 17 years and I have a problem if you can not think about the Soldiers Families that have lost loved ones fighting for our freedoms!!

    PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES, CAN YOU IMAGINE LOOSING A SON, HUSBAND, DAUGHTER AND THEN seeing this add talking about the” seat being left open, Our nation not being one until they are home again” , KNOWING GOOD AND WELL THEY ARE NEVER GOING TO COME HOME! That is what is wron with our world, we care too much about discounts and not enough about those who have died serving our country!! Enjoy your discounted jeep!

  • Cyrus Tawhara

    I am a New Zealander. ex military. We have heaps of Jeeps in this country and I really don’t give a rats a…s about some negative comments.I say good on ya Jeep.Youre not tryingg to sell, you support the USO. Opra doing the narrative bit I would have preferred Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • WMEC904

    Well let’s just look at it like this… Oprah supported Obama and still does, Obama bailed out Jeep with money from the American taxpayer, Jeep sales are not exactly through the roof, Oprah narrates Super Bowl commercial for Jeep for their OM Edition. Wonder what Jeeps financials are looking like? Since it was taxpayer money that bailed them out to begin with, I think the American people have a right to know how our investment is paying off. Hey here is an idea… Next time, lets let Oprah bail out Chrysler!

  • Jim

    I have mixed feelings about the commercial. I like Jeeps but not the narrator. A much better choice would have been Colin Powell, he was one of us.

    Honoring the military is critical. Thanks for that.

    The 1/4 tons I used were by both Ford and Jeep

  • Mike

    I saw on the web last week that Chrysler is going to start making JEEPs in CHINA ! What’s wrong with that picture?

    • Karen

      not everything you read on the web is true. the Chrysler cars made in those will be FOR that market, not imported into the US

  • Jeff

    I am an Air Force brat and a Navy Vet and when my eyes watered up duing the commercial it was not because I was pround of Jeep. It was because I am proud of our servicemen and women and especially proud of those family members who have had to live and work thru more then ten years of repeated combat deployments. Thank you to anyone who takes he time to respect the members of our military services and their families. God bless you all. If this means thank you Jeep then so be it.

  • Chrisas

    Thank you, Servicemembers, Veterans, fellow Spouses and Families! We’re an Army family, and bought our first JEEP a “Patriot” on the Saturday before the Super Bowl. I apprectiated the commercial, and the sentimental lump it brought to my throat. Every homecoming reminder does this, partly because we’ve been through so many! I need this gut level reaction, and I hope others experienced it as well. I believe any extra attention the Military receives from the American public is important! Reminders of the significant sacrifices and dedication of servicemembers and families are inspiring!
    My Soldier has been loved on by the USO when I could’nt be there for him, and I heartily appreciate all their good work! Folks, please remember to love a veteran, especially those from the Vietnam war, today. Freedom isn’t free, it’s been bought at a high cost! Proud to support our Nation’s Heroes!!

  • Manique

    Jeep has been supporting military service members for at least 10, maybe 20, years that I know of by offering discounts toward purchase. I knew about this well before military support commercials became the norm. Once, it was just word of mouth. Its unfortunate that people, especially those associated with the military, do not know this. It is quite a history. That is not to say other companies have not also, but I know Jeep has. Way before I knew military personnel got discounts, it touched my heart that a auto company would take a “hit” to offer one. The style of this commercial, its placement, timing ok. But it is not uncharacteristic, its just more people know it now.


    I saw the Jeep commercial as an ad to honor our service memgers….at least that is how I took it, having been a service memeber and retired USN CPO. If you never served, sit back and keep quiet.

  • Willard

    Am I the only one who noticed that the Navy was left out?

  • DKC

    II’m a disabled veteran and my jeep is the most dependable and durable vehicle I’ve owned. The name. Jeep and patriotism, for me go hand-in-hand.

  • BbahDee
  • Linda

    I’d rather answer the question with another question that my entire military serving and Jeep owning family had: “How is it that this commercial can be made with a straight face when Jeep will no longer be made in the USA? When Jeep will have the made in China seal of approval? And that is given to US troops who are brought home as gifts?” Oh, I’m sorry, I believe that was several questions. I have more questions but I’ll leave it at that.

  • Kristie

    I would not have known what they were doing with the USO had I not seen the comercial being that we are now retired Army. These are the types of companies that we want to support, ones that support what we believe in. It’s definitely a way to generate sales but that’s what companies do. When we retired and opened up our small business, we advertised discounts to military, police officers and firemen and all first responders. It helped us gain customers but it also helped the customers get good service/products at a discount. By the way, we just purchased a Jeep last November and got it at 10% off MSRP using USAA’s car buying service and because of being military Jeep took an aditional $1000.00 off and paid for the tax, title and license. Living in Military City, USA (San Antonio), local businesses really support our community. We have a lot of medically retired and wounded warriors and retirees here. WAY TO GO JEEP!

  • Al Hall

    I am a retired Navy Warrant Officer (I know what separation is). I like the Jeep (I have one). I love the USO (I met my wife at one).
    I just don’t like Oprah!!!!

  • Joey1003

    Jeep has done nothing worse than any other company in the last 10 years. Including all the websites that proclaim to help and assist the troops. The truth is that these are businesses, and operate that way. Are they taking advantage of the military and the attention? Of course. Including this site. Very few businesses are not. Personally, I can think of two: my doctor and dentist.

    There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is not lying about it. Go to a site offering help to troops navigating the VA claims process and all you find are useless 200 word blips written by someone who has no experience with the system. That is not help. Moderators of forums pretend to start worthy discussions that is in reality a stunt to create traffic.

    What I would like to see is the data when a company claims to support troops. You claim to have a hiring program? Show the data….and show how many are disabled troops, not re-hires, not 20 yr employees. A hiring program that does not have slots for disabled troops or vets is a PR stunt. A monetary donation program that turns around and gives the money to other non-profits is a PR stunt.

    And unless YOU are physically disabled from the military, you probably don’t understand. Due to an injury, I can’t walk very well. I haven’t had luck with any of those national chain programs that run these commercials claiming to have a hiring program.