Screenshot of the Jeep Wrangler in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Virtual Product Placement

JEEP WRANGLER STARS IN CALL OF DUTY: MW3

Chrysler

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$36,495: The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Call of Duty special edition Wrangler.

THOUGHT: Awesome!

As a Wrangler owner, I can say this is absolutely, totally awesome.

Not that I’m gonna run out and buy a new Jeep because they slapped a Call of Duty logo on it (now, on the other hand, if they installed a machine gun turret…) but the partnership between Chrysler and Call of Duty video game publisher Activision is a natural fit.

The Jeep, after all, played a starring role in World War II and is the progenitor of today’s military Humvees, so it feels entirely at home in a military-themed first-person shooter.

As the video game industry continues to overshadow Hollywood as an entertainment medium, I think we’re going to see more and more of this type of virtual product placement.

While I don’t know that a Call of Duty-branded Wrangler will sell any better than a normal Wrangler, the vehicle’s presence in a hugely popular video game that its target audience spends a lot of time playing, will certainly help to keep the Wrangler brand top of mind.

So much of the appeal of driving a Wrangler is the experience itself. It’s multi-sensory: You feel the road and with the top down, you feel the wind in your hair, you smell the fresh-cut grass as you drive by the guy mowing his yard. Being able to control a Wrangler in a Call of Duty video game gives you a whole other–and much more exciting–experience with the vehicle that harkens back to its history.

This is what I’d do if a Chrysler or Ford were asking my advice about how to market their vehicles in a world in which consumers are spending more and more time in virtual environments: Partner with state boards of tourism to create open world games of each state of the Union which players navigate by driving their vehicles.

What better way to make it easy for potential customers to take a test drive than giving them a video game that allows them to do so on their own time and in familiar environments?

MINNESOTA MONDAY: Minnesota teachers save their districts money by creating their own online textbooks.

Thank you for Improv Everywhere.