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The 4-in-1 Advertising Campaign

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

UPDATE: A twist on the 4-in-1 campaign shared below was the use of the term “4-Purpose Jeep” in some newspaper ads.

A few months after the introduction of the CJ-2A in July of 1945 Willys-Overland introduced the 4-in-1-functional vehicle advertising concept for the Willys Universal ‘Jeep’, which was an effort to quickly explain how Swiss-army-knife-like the new jeep could be. Perhaps, speculatively speaking, it was even a play off of the “4” in the 4-wheel-drive aspects of the jeep as well? Either way, for a short-time, in late-1945 and early 1946 Willys-Overland pushed the idea of the jeep as having 4 different functions for farm and industry.

I would argue that the campaign wasn’t very successful, or at least didn’t work for me, because just this morning I had to once again look up what constituted the “4”. In case you can’t remember, let’s take a quick look at how this campaign might have originated.

WHAT THE JEEP CAN DO: The earliest mention I have of the four functions was in the Saturday Evening Post’s November 10, 1945, two-page-ad, the first big splash of advertising for the new Universal Jeep, where W-O claims in bold at the top of the ad that the ‘Jeep’ is a vehicle capable of doing a “thousand jobs”:

1945-11-10-sat-evening-post-willys-jeep-2page-ad-pg71-lores 1945-11-10-sat-evening-post-willys-jeep-2page-ad-pg70-lores

Looking more closely ad the ad text, W-O never gets around to listing all 1,000 possible jobs for their new vehicle, but, after claiming the Universal “Jeep” can do almost Anything, the company breaks down the CJ-2A’s functionality into four categories: 1) As a Truck, 2) As a Runabout, 3) As a Mobile Power Unit, and 4) As a Tractor. But, absent from this page is the 4-in-1 branding.

The Four-Function Jeep: The very next month, Willys-Overland inches closer to the 4-in-1 concept by proclaiming in a second two-page ad on December 02, 1945, in the Saturday Evening Post, that the ‘Jeep’ was a “The Four-Function” vehicle.

Once again, Willys-Overland listed four categories, but this time a) changed the order,  2) softened the “truck” claim, changing it to a Light Truck, and c) softened the “tractor” claim, changing it to Light Tractor as the following category headers show: 1) Use it as a Runabout, 2) Use it as a Light Tractor, 3) Use it as a Mobile Power Unit, and 4) Use it as a Light Truck.

1945-12-2-sat-evening-post-willys-builds-the-worlds-most-versatile-vehicle-pg61-lores 1945-12-2-sat-evening-post-willys-builds-the-worlds-most-versatile-vehicle-pg60-lores

Still, as of December 1945, the term 4-in-1 still wasn’t used in the company’s major advertising campaigns.

The 4-IN-1 Jeep: That changed on January 19, 1945, when W-O published a third two-page-ad with the title “For Business Or Farm, The 4-IN-1 ‘Jeep’ Does More Jobs … Tougher Jobs“.

However, and a bit confusingly, the 4-in-1 part of the header appears on page 96, while the list of four functions appears on page 97. Moreover, unlike the previous two ads, the four functions aren’t used as highlighted categories (see the top left of page 97 under “‘JEEP’ DOES MORE”).

Note that while the term “Light Truck” is still used from December’s ad, the Tractor function no longer includes the term “Light” in front of it. And, the jeep’s Runabout function was expanded to being a “Useful Runabout”. (Also, note that this ad introduced the Get a ‘Jeep’ Campaign).

Page 96:


Page 97:1946-01-19-sat-evening-post-for-business-or-farm-the-4-in-one-pg97-lores

A Visual Representation: Finally, on February 16, 1946, Willys-Overland combined the 4-in-1-function advertising concept with actual categories. It’s the best example I’ve seen of how the company envisioned the four functions using both imagery and categories. Note that the jeep is no longer a LIGHT truck or tractor and it’s runabout capability is no longer USEFUL.


AND NOW For Something Different: After finally creating an ad that visually helps users understand the campaign better, W-O abandons the 4-in-1 advertising strategy in March, turning the jeep upside down:


In April of 1946, W-O ignores both the 4-in-1 campaign and the Get A ‘Jeep’ campaign to tease the upcoming New Chapter in Willys history (spoiler alert, it’s the wagon).

Back to 4-IN-1: On May 04, 1946, W-O brings back the 4-in-1 campaign in Colliers, but this time with a different structure:


Then, two weeks later, in the May 25, 1946, issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the 4-in-1 catch-phrase is gone again.


Epilogue: While the 4-in-1 advertising concept would pop up occasionally, in brochures and newspaper ads (see below), it was generally abandoned as an advertising campaign after mid-1946. Note that I haven’t thoroughly researched the use of the 4-in-1 or four-function concepts after 1946, but these examples show it lingered:

Here is a French brochure printed sometime in 1946:




This March 18, 1947, ad doesn’t mention 4-in-1 or the four functions, but does divide the jeep’s uses into four categories:


This March 1947 ad expands the functions to five: 1) economical pickup, 2) tows, 3) light tractor, 4) provides pto power, and 5) a cross country runabout.


Finally, we get to the ad that sparked my interest in this topic. It shows that Willy-Overland of Canadian published a 1950 ad (currently on eBay) highlighting the Universal Jeep, which would have been the CJ-3A by that point, even though a slightly modified CJ-2A is shown in one pic) as a 3-in-1 vehicle:


After seeing this ad on ebay, I found myself wondering what the fourth-function was. Of course, after the above post shows, I now know that missing from the 1950 ad is the “runabout” function.


2 Comments on “The 4-in-1 Advertising Campaign

  1. Offroad Onroad

    the best thing jeeps can do is — DO 4WD WORK AND THEN DRIVE ON PAVED ROADS !! — you ever see an ATV driving into town ? — its so sad , all the farmers and ranchers around here have ditched jeeps in favor of ATV’S — horses have been abandoned also , i watched some bozos do a cattle round-up the other day with ATVS !!! — i spotted a broken cj-2a by a barn near by , its front axle ripped out and missing , the farmer has a new side by side , oh well …

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