Why Jeep tapped Paul George to be the face of their summer campaign

On this morning, Paul George finally swam in the ocean.

Strange to believe, but this was a first for the Palmdale, California native.

George and three friends are included in Jeep's summer spot.

George and three friends are included in Jeep’s summer spot.

George and three friends were at Crandon Park, an urban spot in the the northern part of Key Biscayne, Florida. They arrived around 6:30 a.m. and were there for about six hours to get everything just right for multiple 30-second national TV spots.

George is the new face of the brand’s “Summer of Jeep” campaign, in partnership with USA Basketball.

In 2012, for the London Olympics, it was the Clippers’ Chris Paul. Two years later, it was Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers.

Now it is Paul George, from the small-market Pacers, not only featured on the cover of NBA2K17 but also landing an endorsement with Jeep brands that will be highlighted all summer long.

George has been on Jeep’s short list for some time.

“Landing on Paul, I think was true to the spirit of our brand, true to the resiliency that I think he represents, and his reach,” Kim Adams House, Head of Jeep brand advertising, explained to VigilantSports.com in a phone interview.

“I think he is becoming more widely known based on not just his skill, but what he has faced in terms of adversity. I think celebrating our summer campaign and in speaking on behalf of our brand that represents this enabling spirit, this authentic and passionate approach to living life fully, we couldn’t have found a better complement to what our mission was throughout this campaign.”

[PG co-hosting eighth annual celebrity softball game with Robert Mathis]

George is coming off his best season as a pro, leading the Pacers to Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. He was named an All-Star for the third time, led the game in scoring and was a bucket shy from posting the highest individual point total in game history.

Oh, and it was just his first year back from a broken fibula and tibia in his right leg.

As Jeep celebrates its 75th anniversary, which includes special-edition vehicles that showcase open-air freedom, bold style and a new spirit of adventure, they are wanting to consumers to go out and enjoy summer in a fun way. They started a #MyJeepStory campaign where they encourage fans to share their story on their website and on social media using that hashtag.

“It started off originally as a way to energize the brand and to create the story around the products around our brand as the official vehicle of the summer,” Adams House said. “There’s no better season for the brand to celebrate the open-air freedom.”

George averaged 23.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in his sixth NBA season.

George averaged 23.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in his sixth NBA season.

Like everyone, George has a story. And his, coming back from an injury where even he wondered if his playing days were over, still is truly remarkable. The image of him down on the baseline with a towel over his right leg won’t soon be forgotten by Pacers fans (or executives).

George appears in two of three Jeep commercials airing this summer. In the main one, George is first pictured in the ocean. On this early morning in Florida, he swam by himself for take after take. Those on set appreciated his commitment to get it right.

He shares what he stands as he arrives in style to the outdoor basketball court with three real-life friends, adding authenticity. (Doesn’t it remind you of several years ago when ESPN requested an interview and he insisted on including the entire starting five?)

“I think there is clearly that sense of freedom that he feels when he is doing what he does — his craft, the beauty of his game is encapsulated in a sense of freedom and a sense of adventure,” Adams House said.

“We wanted him to be authentic and true to who he was and to capture his eloquent story that we feel aligns with the enabling spirit of our brand. He has enabled himself to push forward. He has enabled himself to be atop of his game. We’re a brand that works day in and day out to ensure that the products that we bring to market are relevant to this worldwide community of fans and followers and owners.”

For several years now, Jeep has had a partnership with USA Basketball in place.

Paul, of course, got injured in his most recent official business for them — a scrimmage back on Aug. 1, 2014. His contest at the rim in transition changed his body — and perspective — forever.

And it remains a goal of his to play for Team USA and win a gold medal.

“I still have … dreams of lifting that gold medal,” he said last summer. “That’s definitely a motivation.”

Jeep had discussions with USA Basketball and trusted friends of the brand who are intimately involved in the NBA. They wanted to be sure they had a player who, from a caliber standpoint, aligned with the core values of their brand.

“What it allows us to do is to use the passion of basketball to align … with our passion of following that particular sport, and the passionate fans that are engaged, gives us an opportunity to have conversations with new and different consumers. And so it was through that process that we solidified our partnership. And in order to create, again, this authentic feel to it, it makes sense to have someone who is one of them be the endorser or the spokesperson for our summer campaign.”

Those four key values are freedom, adventure, authenticity, and passion.

“We truly believe that this year, our selection of Paul George, really aligns authentically and organically to what our brand is about,” said Adams House, who was at Crandon Park for George’s shoot.

And while George stated his intention to compete with USA Basketball this summer, nothing is locked in. A USA Basketball spokesman told VigilantSports.com last week that invitations for the Olympic Team are unlikely to go out until after the NBA Finals — which could be over by week’s end (and no later than June 19). By then, they’ll have a better idea of the field of players, both healthy and willing to participate, to choose from.

Managing Director Jerry Colangelo did say two years ago that both he and coach Mike Krzyzewski informed George that they’ll reserve a spot for him. This deal with Jeep, a close partner of USA Basketball, all but sounds like George is in.

On top of that, USA Basketball and their production staff will capture George in unique behind-the-scenes moments that can help Paul to continue to share his story.

PG's Jeep commercials were filmed at Crandon Park — outside of Miami, Fla. [Photo: Jeep]

PG’s Jeep commercials were filmed at Crandon Park — outside of Miami, Fla. [Photo: Jeep]

When George and USA Basketball are in Chicago July 27-29 for team training an exhibition game against Venezuela, he will also join Jeep during their “Summer of Jeep” experience to amplify the brand and engage the community through music and sports.

George boasts a large social media presence, with 1.46 million followers on Twitter and over 3.3 million on Instagram.

Jeep joins a list of big-time brands who all have endorsement deals with the Pacers’ star, like Nike, Gatorade, Papa John’s Pizza, AT&T, and New Era Caps.

This Jeep campaign was officially announced on Monday but early returns back to headquarters have been encouraging.

“Based on the responses that we’re hearing creatively since our campaign just launched,” Adams House said, “we couldn’t be happier.”

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