Willys Jeep CJ2A Advertising

The Sun Never Sets On the Mighty "Jeep"

In 1945 World War Two still raged, and jeeps of war still rolled off the production lines; but the end was in sight.  Willys-Overland produced a few examples of the CJ-2 "Jeep", the precursor to the first mass-produced civilian Jeep, the CJ2A, and the U.S. government sent them around the country to demonstrate its post-war uses.  This 1945 ad has a beautiful Sessions painting depicting the Jeep "invading" a midwest farm.  The text is in the form of a testimonial by a farmer who had the opportunity to test the vehicle.  He mentions hooking the Jeep up to a reaper and a manure spreader and used it to haul grain to a neighbour's farm and to take a jaunt on the highway.

Notable in the early ads is that "Jeep" is contained within quotation marks.  Up until WWII, any number of vehicles were known as "jeeps"; indeed, some new recruits were assigned the moniker.  During a publicity stunt around 1941, a reporter asked a soldier what kind of vehicle he was driving.  The soldier told him it was a "jeep" and the name became synonymous with the Willys 1/4-ton truck.  It wasn't until 1950 that Willys-Overland acquired the trademark to the name "Jeep" for it's vehicles.  Willys-Overland made a point in its early adds to claim the name:  "In every country... to millions of people... "JEEP" means "WILLYS".  Click on the image to see a larger image (165k).

This ad circa 1945 is a photocopy.  Again, the top of the ad equates "Jeep" with "Willys".  Positioning itself for the post-war market, Willys shows that "Around the clock... Around the year... Around the world... The Universal "Jeep" works and saves."

The other ads on this page show the Jeep in various real-world scenarios like the farm ad above and the grainary ad which follows.  This ad takes a more conceptual approach showing a processions of Jeeps travelling on a Saturn-like ring around the globe, the zodiac, and a celestial clock.  The artist took the "Universal" part of the Jeep's name literally!  The Jeep is shown plowing snow, trailering cattle, being used as a runabout (with a totem pole suggesting the Pacific Northwest), towing a sprayer, hauling a log past a statue of Buddha, discing a field, trenching, carrying milk, and being used as a runabout past Big Ben's tower.  Truly this is a versatile vehicle!  Click on the image to see a larger image (161k)

November, 1945 Jeep AdThe ad to the left, taken from the November 3, 1945 issue of Collier's magazine, depicts the Harvest Tan colour option for 1945 and early-1946.  Emphasis is placed on the Jeep's versatility and suggests uses as a truck, tractor, runabout and mobile power unit.  The text mentions the Jeep's war record and promises that the post-war "Universal Jeep" will write a history of its own.  This seems to be a pre-distribution ad, as the last paragraph states: "Soon, Willys dealers will be showing the Universal "Jeep".  When you see it, you can envision the many, many ways it will serve mankind."  Click on the image to see a larger image (163k)

The main image shows a farmer buying feed, showing the Jeep's utility as a light truck.  The inset photographs show the Jeep at work as a tractor pulling a discing unit, as a mobile power unit powering a circular saw, and as a family vehicle taking the wife and two kids for a spin.  The Jeep in the main illustration appears not to be a CJ2A, but a CJ-2.  Look closely on the bonnet and you'll see "JEEP" stamped on it -- a detail that did not appear on the CJ2A.  Also interesting is the power take-off (PTO) on the back.  This Jeep has tool indentations, a carryover from the military MB models, and the column shift which appeared on the CJ2A until early 1946.  Notice also the Willys "engine and globes" logo, compared to the red, white and blue "J" logo on the later ads, which appeared around Christmas, 1945.

"Born for war -- Ready for peace" proclaims this ad which features a Sessions painting and which appeared in the July 21st, 1945 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.  The Allies had achieved victory in Europe, and the end of the Pacific war would come but weeks later.    The lush fields of America provided food for the Allies while the fields of the Axis powers had been pockmarked by bombs and ravaged by war.  The peaceful scene in this ad is quite different from the reality across the sea.  Farmers take their cows to market and young boys take time to fish in their favourite pond.  The inset lists "but a few of the hundreds of uses for this versatile vehicle" on farms, in industry and in general use.  People would clamour for the little Jeep!  But they may have to wait.  According to the fine print, "We still have a war to win.  Its demands will of necessity limit the "Jeeps" available for peacetime uses, but at your first opportunity -- Get a "Jeep"."

December, 1945 Jeep AdThis "Universal Jeep" ad to the left was taken from a magazine circa December, 1945.  The date was arrived at by noticing the full-page Santa Claus-selling-Chesterfield cigarette ad on the opposite side.  Click on the image to see a larger version (171k).  As was typical of the advertising of the time, the text describes the Jeep's versatility.  "Use it as a runabout... Use it as a light tractor... Use it as a mobile power unit... Use it as a light truck."  Willys wanted the buying public to know that the Jeep is a tool to be used.  There were two colours offered on the 1945 and early-1946 CJ2As:  Pasture Green and Harvest Tan.  This is an example of the Pasture Green Jeep.  The red, white and blue "Willys J" mentioned earlier appears in this ad.

The top part of the ad, titled "features", mentions the engine, four-wheel drive, operating range, power take-off, two driving axles (which in this author's opinion is a bit redundant, considering four-wheel drive is already mentioned), hydraulic brakes on all four wheels, new steering linkage, capstan winch, engine governor, column shift, and draw bar.  The column shift was replaced by a floor shifter at s/n 38221, which is about half way into the 1946 production (71,554 units).  The Jeep depicted in the ad also has body-colour headlight trim rings, which mark it as pre-s/n 38687.  Finally, the smaller illustrations show tool indents on the driver's side of the body, which were eliminated starting with s/n 29500.

On February 16, 1946 The Saturday Evening Post printed this two-page spread.  It's certainly one of the most colourful of the Willys Jeep advertising!  "In teaming cities... on broad farm lands... in rock quarry and desert... in pampas and delta... in mountains and jungle, there's one vehicle known, respected and whated everywhere.  That's why, in many languages around the world you hear the advice: GET A 'JEEP'."

And this ad does take the reader around the world!  China, India, Argentina, Australia, and several parts of the United States are represented in sixteen inset illustrations.  These illustrations are not as dramatic as the Sessions paintings, but they do get the point across:  That the Universal "Jeep" can handle any job you ask it to do; whether the job is rounding up cattle in Argentina or cruising the beach in Florida.  Again, the "4-in-1" capability is featured in the text and its value as an investment is repeated as well.

One minor error this author discovered in the ad was the depiction of the Jeep in India.  The tool indentations are on the wrong side!  Click on the image to see a larger image (115k).  A link to a still larger image (359k) is provided below that image on the page linked to the small image.

This 1946 ad appeared in The Saturday Evening Post.  No mention is made of the Jeep's war record.  Instead it focuses on such peacetime activities as camping, logging, hauling and just going down to the soda fountain for refreshments.

Again this ad stresses the versatility of the "Jeep", which would be a theme that Willys would continue to use throughout the production run of the CJ2A.

Continue to Page 2 for more vintage Jeep print ads.

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