Jeep didn't take kindly to Apple associating its brand name with the little blue car emoji. The car was a standard emoji one: a sort of blobby anonycar, reminiscent of today's average blobby, anonymous crossover.
But Jeep, a company that sells plenty of crossovers nowadays, was not happy with Apple over iOS's suggestion of the little blue car every time a user typed the word "Jeep" in a message, Digital Trends reports. The company even launched a full #ThisIsNotAJeep social media campaign around it to get the association removed.
It worked, and Jeep didn't even have to formally contact Apple about the issue. No longer will Jeep owners have to suffer the indignity of having a tame little blue blob-car come up as a suggestion when they're talking about the ran-when-beached XJ they just dug out from a mud pit somewhere.
While the little blue car kind of looks like a cartoon-ized Jeep Compass to me, it should be pretty obvious that Jeep doesn't exactly parade around the Compass as the face of its #brand. That face would be the Wrangler, Gladiator, or any number of boxier, off-road-ready vehicles that have a clear connection to Jeep's beloved military vehicles and that are a little more desirable than your average mall-ready runabout.
Part of Jeep's argument was that the little blue emoji wasn't "Trail Rated," its designation for its most off-road-ready vehicles. Off-road ability is so ingrained in the Jeep identity that "Trail Rated" packages are even offered on Jeep's most civilized vehicles now, like the Compass, Renegade, and Cherokee.
Jeep photoshopped several instances of the emoji car getting caught out by different situations in nature accordingly, as Muse by Clio notes.
The chief marketing officer of Jeep's current parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Olivier Francois seemed to use the opportunity to make a subtle dig at the Mahindra Roxor off-roader when he sent a statement on the campaign, as reprinted by Ad Age:
The Jeep brand is opposed to this emoji being connected with its name and we're happy the association has been removed from the latest iOS update. We’re good-natured-ly celebrating its demise with our owners and fans through this social media campaign, while firmly making it known that any SUV that does not carry the Jeep brand name cannot pass itself off as one of our vehicles.
The Roxor is based on a vintage Jeep design licensed by Willys to Indian automaker Mahindra, which was a fairly peaceful agreement until Mahindra decided to sell its reworked vintage Jeep as an off-road-only vehicle in the United States. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been fighting with Mahindra over that ever since.
Yet the Roxor is a perfect argument for the idea that Digital Trends notes that the word "jeep" (lowercase here) has become a bit like "kleenex" or "xerox" insofar as it's a brand name that's frequently used as a generic term. In this case, "jeep" gets used as a generic name for all off-roaders. I haven't heard Jeep's name used as much in that way where I live, but then again, most of the off-roaders I know are dyed-in-the-wool Jeep fans who are quick to point out that your cute little Suzuki Samurai is not a Jeep and sometimes even that their Wranglers are not trucks.
This generic usage idea does make some sense, though, given that the name "Jeep" itself was derived from the military's "General Purpose light vehicle" category. Thus, it sounds like Apple made an honest flub with its unintentionally branded emoji.
As Digital Trends notes, Jeep was the only automotive brand to have its own emoji associated with it in iOS; however, it's clear that it'd rather initiate that emoji relationship than have an emoji decided for it. Emojis tend to shy away from explicit brand references, though, so if they're going to lobby for a Jeep emoji, perhaps they can get a generic boxy off-roader added like Ford was able to get a generic pickup truck.
The blue car emoji still gets suggested by iOS if you type generic names for vehicles such as "SUV," "car" and "automobile," Ad Age notes.
Alternately, we can all just type out car names using regular letters. The name "Jeep" is only four letters long. We'll live, I swear.