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2007 JEEP WRANGLER

Photos By Michael Cohn
Story and PodCast Courtesy of DaimlerChrysler

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2007 Jeep Wrangler Crashes Through Cobo Hall!
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How'd they do it, and why? We're talking about the photo-op of the day at the North American International Auto Show--the smashing Jeep ® Wrangler reveal. For those of you who haven't yet seen it or weren't there, here's what happened. After Chrysler President and CEO Tom LaSorda was driven on stage to introduce the Wrangler, he stopped long enough to chat briefly with Eric Ridenour, Chrysler Group Chief Operating Officer.

Listen to Entire PodCast (MP3 - 16MB)

2007 Jeep Wrangler.

LaSorda asked Ridenour if the reveal should go the way they did it in rehearsal, and so it did. The Wrangler containing LaSorda zoomed off the stage, across the hall, eventually smashing through the front glass of Cobo's entrance, coming to rest on a specially-built mountaintop across the street.

2007 Jeep Wrangler

2007 Jeep Wrangler

The creative geniuses behind the most talked about reveal, come from the Birmingham, Michigan agency Clear!Blue.
TheFirehouse.biz got the inside story of the Wrangler reveal straight from the folks who dreamed up the stunt: Larry Parrott, chief creative officer, Linda Nahas, executive producer, and Lisa Pigott, DaimlerChrysler account supervisor. Here are some excerpts from that conversation. You can hear the entire interview by clicking on the podcast using the button at the end of this post.

Why do it this way..how'd you pull it off: Larry: Wrangler is the icon of the Jeep brand and we wanted to come up with a big, exciting, memorable way of introducing the latest iteration of the Wrangler to the international journalists. At the same time and we wanted to demonstrate Jeep's do-anything, go-anywhere attitude. We wanted to capture everyone's imagination. So what we wanted to do is something that hadn't been done before, so we decided rather than reveal a vehicle, we were going to let a vehicle break free from Cobo Hall and crash through the glass, drive across the street and up a mountain.
Chrysler loved it from the outset.

Linda: (Cobo Hall attitude) They were actually excited that we were going to do something like this again and had the backing of the DADA (Detroit Auto Dealers Association)

Larry: In the early 90's when we were children, the first modern iteration of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was introduced and this was before the days of big, exciting press events, and a guy named Bill Abele came up with the idea of crashing in through the glass of Cobo Hall to introduce the fact this vehicle was breaking into new markets.

Logistics of Wrangler Reveal:
Linda: We met with Cobo head of engineering, took our own technical director in with us. We measured out doorways, glass, got in touch with the glass supplier, Christy Glass, who puts the glass into Cobo, and they're contracted to work there. They worked with us to remove the glass so we could put in special glass. We've got special effects, pyrotechnics, best in the United States, worked with us on this job.
We just talk it through with all the experts, making sure we're doing everything we need to do, then we go back and we check it safety-wise. Is the fire marshall good, is Cobo Hall good, is the city of Detroit good? Can we do it? Yes we can.

How does it work?
Linda: It is tempered glass that has charges in it, and a remote control will set off the charges which actually explodes the glass before you go through it. It's just split-second timing, that right when the vehicle is just about to hit the glass, you throw the charge, the Jeep keeps going but it didn't really pound into it.

Safety precautions:
Linda: Number one, we need a Jeep with a hard top, so we don't hurt anybody. Security, all around the perimeter so that no people can cross right through when the charge goes off and safety glasses for anybody that is nearby.

Most challenging part/roadblocks:
Linda: There's a lot going on in the Cobo lobby that you're not thinking about when we first sat down and met with them. We mapped out, OK, this is what we're going to do, then you find out they're putting the ice cream stand and putting in the coat check. It' not so challenging as much as it's just a lot of work and you have to touch back with a lot of vendors and people just to make sure you're not gonna crash through the coat racks. It's just being precise.
Larry: The kind of glass is important. Tempered glass breaks into little pebbles, it doesn't break into sharp edges and when these explosive squibs fire they fire into the bottom of the panes of the glass. So when we say "explode," it fires bolts and essentially the glass panel collapses on itself, so it doesn't explode.

The same way they do it in a movie?
Larry: Exactly.

Continued... Listen for complete interview