In-car Easter Eggs, Marketing Wizardry?

No sooner have the Christmas decorations and related specials abated with the New Year, along comes the next round of festive cheer, not counting that commercial maelstrom Valentine’s Day in the middle of February; Easter is already upon us, well, the marketing and advertising is, in any case.

If you have not already noticed, the chocolate Santa Claus’ have already been replaced at strategic points around the tills at the local supermarkets by a selection of bunnies, eggs and other cute-and- cuddly’s, and one cannot help but feel that these celebrations get extended more and more every year, flowing from one to another.

Aside from the abundance of chocolate, and of course the religious symbolism this event represents, Easter is synonymous with the ever-present Easter Eggs, and, according to that source of boundless knowledge and data on just about anything under the sun Wikipedia, the Christian custom of Easter eggs, specifically stained eggs with red colouring “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at His crucifixion”, was started by the early Christians of Mesopotamia. Quite how these eggs magically transformed into the Chocolate variety is unknown but as they are far tastier, I am happy to celebrate with the cocoa infused type.

However, I digress. The subject of this post is indeed about the venerable Easter Egg in name only, unknown to many, the term Easter Egg has subsequently been used in the past three or four decades to describe completely different items, and few of them are the chocolate variety.

The first mention of Easter Eggs outside of Easter itself goes back to the late 1970’s when undocumented hidden features or messages were placed in software or hardware in the information technology industry by creative developers wanting to leave these features behind for users to discover, adding a bit of personality and fun to their creations.

Over the years, the tech industry has become famous for all sorts of humorous and weird easter eggs that people have managed to discover. Some of these have been as simple as a few strategic keystrokes by the user to unlock hidden screens revealing the names of the developers, to more extravagant secret features in the software of games or programmes.

And, as fascinating as these are to the technology-savvy amongst us, in recent years the motor industry has adopted the Easter Egg concept to hide key design elements, particularly those most relevant to the respective brand.

The Jeep brand has been most notable in their use of Easter Eggs across all the models in their ranges. From hidden icons that need extensive searches to find such as the now famous “Ciao Baby” Spider in the fuel filler flap of the Renegade models, to simple items such as the Jerry-Can motif in the rear taillights. Incidentally, the Spider in the fuel filler cap came about when a prototype of the Renegade was shipped from the USA to Italy in the early stages of development, a real spider had been trapped between the filler door and the body of the car and was discovered by one of the designers who immediately put into play the now famous Easter Egg on the production vehicle.

Other notable Easter Eggs found on Jeep vehicles include the vehicle climbing a mountain in the black surround of the windscreen on the Wrangler, the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti on the rear window of the Renegade and the map of Moab’s infamous “Hell’s Revenge” off-road route in the foldable front seat base of the Cherokee. The Willys seven slot grille and headlights are also liberally spread out across the Jeep range, from vent covers to inclusion in the design of the headlights themselves.

Jeep, and indeed its siblings from the Chrysler, Dodge and RAM brands, are not the only manufacturers hiding key design clues or elements in their vehicles. Look closely in the cubby of certain Opel models and you will find a shark lurking there, or brands that use the exterior puddle lights to display their company logo on the ground below the doors. Fiat has used the Panda name in the interior of the vehicle in tiny lettering randomly scattered through-out, and Volvo have paid homage to their vehicles being the first to be fitted with seat belts in 1959 with the date etched on the seat belt buckles of certain model ranges.

And whilst they may not be considered Easter Eggs in the true sense of the phrase, high-end brands also partner with watch makers and have their interior clocks made by these companies. Bentley has partnered with Breitling for many years as has Mercedes-Benz and IWC, not only are the watch maker’s designs prominent on the dashboards of their cars, but limited-edition timepieces are also produced, for a price often matching the car, enabling you to wear your Easter Egg on your wrist.

So, when you are next at a Jeep dealership, or simply passing one of their vehicles parked at the local shopping centre, take a careful look around and see which of these Easter Eggs you can identify!

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