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Australian Jeep marketing stunt goes awry [w/video]

Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:30:00 EST

Jeep fans in Australia are none too happy with the off-road brand following a contest that saw ten new Cherokees sold for just $10,000 Australian (about $9,400), roughly a quarter of the vehicle's price Down Under.

The contest, called the "World's Most Remote Dealership," gave Aussies the chance to snag an ultra-affordable Cherokee Longitude (analogous to the US-spec Latitude trim), provided they could get to a secret dealership in the remote wilderness of western New South Wales, near the border with the state of South Australia.

In order to get the exact location of the dealership, though, potential customers needed to download an app, which would release a phone number 9:00 AM AEST on Thursday (7:00 PM EDT, Wednesday night). The first ten people who could call in and prove they could afford to finance $10,000 and get to the remote dealership, were given the location of the remote dealership.

The only problem is that the phone number to call in was leaked out on an Internet forum the night before. That's left some contest participants crying foul, despite the fact that the lines themselves didn't open until 9:00 AM AEST, according to CarAdvice, who spoke to Jeep Australia's director of corporate affairs, Karla Leach.

Over 49,000 people downloaded the app and the call center responsible for the contest recorded 30,000 phone calls, with winners coming from all six Australian states. Aside from the leaked number, congestion on the phone lines was an issue, as well.

Many Australians voiced their frustration on the company's Facebook page.

"Absolute farce, number wouldn't even connect let alone ring," one commenter wrote. "Truly a waste of my time ?Jeep Australia. How could you go through with the promo knowing full well the number had been leaked? Makes me feel a sense of animosity towards the Jeep brand," wrote another. There was also talk from some commenters of a class-action lawsuit.

Jeep, though, seems to think that some of the sour grapes are simply due to those who didn't win.

"We are overwhelmed with the amazing participation in the Jeep 'The World's Most Remote Dealership' promotion. There were over 30,000 calls made this morning for the chance to buy just 10 vehicles. So we can understand that some people are disappointed that were not successful," Leach told CarAdvice.

What do you think? Is Jeep at fault for the number being leaked? Does it even matter, since the lines didn't open until a pre-determined time? Scroll down and have a look at the event's commercial, and then have your say in Comments.

By Brandon Turkus

See also: Dodge and Jeep recalling 895k SUVs for possibility of headliner fires, 2014 Jeep Cherokee: June 2014, NHTSA investigating why Jeep recall fix is taking so long.