- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Every hunter in the United States is talking about it. The people who manufacture the Jeep, the most recognizable symbol of off-road driving and certainly the vehicle of choice for tens of thousands of American hunters and fishermen, took a direct shot at recreational hunting. It's a crying shame, say some; a stab in the back of the thousands of hunters who have spent their hard-earned dollars on a brand name they thought personified their beliefs: spending as much time as possible in the outdoors hunting, fishing and scouting the backwoods.
But, no, Jeep's Madison Avenue yuppie advertising agency sold Jeep's owners Daimler Chrysler a bill of goods that backfired on them in a huge way. Along the way, here's hoping General Motors and Ford are paying attention so they won't get ideas about putting down hunters to attract the animal rights movement a very vocal bunch, but not nearly as large in numbers as the hunters.
In a "deer hunter" commercial, a man drives a Jeep through a wooded area with two deer tied on top of the 4-wheel-drive vehicle. As the Jeep passes by, other camouflage-garbed hunters are seen in the woods.
The driver of the Jeep then crosses the road to a location that displays a "No Hunting" sign. The Jeep stops, the man gets out and he releases the deer that are actually alive, not dead. The driver tells the deer they are safe and the animals bound away. In the background, other Jeep owners are now seen doing the same.
"Sure, the message was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but it won't be taken that way by the 40 million sportsmen across America," said U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (formerly known as the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America) president, Bud Pidgeon. "This ad gives the distinct impression that people who 'save' wildlife from hunters and drive Jeeps are the good guys. In reality, the good guys are American sportsmen. They are our nation's top conservationists and they are the reason that America's wildlife is flourishing."
When the U.S.S.A. first contacted Jeep, its spokesperson, Diane Jackson, wasn't willing to acknowledge the insulting message portrayed in its commercial. She said the ad was creative and it would continue to run nationally.
But Jeep changed its mind. It has stopped running the advertisement that "took a shot" at deer hunters. Last week, the U.S.S.A. sent a call to action for sportsmen across the country about the commercial that glorified anti-hunters and vilified sportsmen. Hunters immediately took action, flooding the company with telephone calls and faxes expressing their displeasure with the ad. The auto manufacturer canceled the commercial. "We did not anticipate this story line would evoke such negative emotion among some viewers," said Jeff Bell, vice president of marketing communications for Daimler Chrysler. "Obviously we underestimated the sensitivity of this issue. Because this is so emotionally charged, we will no longer continue this campaign."
"This is concrete proof that the sportsman's voice should not be taken lightly," said Rick Story, vice president of the U.S.S.A. "When millions of sportsmen in this country speak as one, a great deal can be accomplished."
Hunters weren't the only ones objecting to the commercial. Jay Menuskin, facilitator for Prebul Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep in Chattanooga, Tenn., felt the commercial was offensive to his clients. He called for the U.S.S.A to "apologize for the tasteless ad that did not serve any useful purpose."
For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and its work, call 614/888-4868 or visit the Web at www.ussportsmen.org.
Animal rightists backed by General Mills General Mills, which produces some of the biggest selling cereals in the U.S., is distributing free calendars that provide information about one of the more rabid anti-hunting organizations in the world, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). Sport hunters are ticked off, especially because the HSUS's Kids in Nature's Defense News is being distributed in classrooms everywhere, molding young minds to follow the animal worshippers' warped ways. The hunters' message: Send a message and don't buy anything made by General Mills.
PETA has it all wrong (again) The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals can't seem to get anything right. In a recent letter to the Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, PETA asks that hunting and fishing be outlawed on Interior property and, we suppose to add a little zest, says that Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the first wildlife refuge in the 1940s. Sorry, PETA. It was Teddy Roosevelt, an avid hunter, who so wisely wanted to set aside such lands and he did it 35 years before FDR was in office.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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