It's one of the most famous photographs ever taken, and a beacon of environmental protection—the so-called "Pale Blue Dot" photo, taken by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft on Feb. 14, 1990, from a distance of almost 4 billion miles, showing Earth as a speck in the distance, our vulnerable home set against the vast and staggering expanse of space.
Carl Sagan was personally responsible for getting the photo taken, having lobbied NASA to turn Voyager's camera around and take one last photograph of its home planet as it exited the solar system. Sagan would later ruminate on the meaning of the photo in his book Pale Blue Dot, and in one memorable passage, urge humankind to protect the Earth, "the only home we've ever known."
Now, in collaboration with Sagan's widow, the writer, producer, and director Ann Druyan, Jeep is using Sagan's words in a sweeping launch spot advertising the Wrangler 4xe—a plug-in hybrid capable of up to 25 miles of nearly silent, zero-emission, electric-only propulsion, perfect for many commuters. The ad features shots of the planet, along with photos and videos of human history—with some Jeep shots added.
See the spot, from agency Doner, below. For every completed view of the video, Jeep will make a donation to an environmental group. The spot launches as the wildfires on the West Coast show that climate change is no longer a distant, theoretical possibility.
Druyan, 71, says Olivier Francois, CMO of Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler, came to her in 2017 asking to use her husband's iconic soliloquy to introduce a new Jeep model.
"I asked him to please come back to me when Fiat Chrysler made an electric Jeep," says Druyan, founder and CEO of Cosmos Studios, maker of science-based entertainment. "Exactly two years passed and he called, saying, 'We made you a car, Annie.' "
"Jeep is in a process of electrification of its lineup, and we feel a big responsibility to market it properly because it is not just a technical upgrade, it is a new chapter that opens for the brand," Francois says. "The core of the brand's DNA is exploration, adventure and freedom, so our customers already have a deep and powerful relationship with nature and with our planet."
He adds: "Entrusting us with passages from her husband Carl Sagan's iconic 'Pale Blue Dot' oration is an act of faith and generosity from Ann that is absolutely incredible. We very clearly felt an enormous duty to both protect their shared legacy and also advocate for this universal message of caring for our planet by giving our global audience the ability to support two climate change causes that are very important to us both, by simply watching 'Pale Blue Dot' video across our social channels."
Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" narration has been used in advertising before. Apple used a different excerpt for a 2017 ad following the U.S.'s exit from the Paris climate accord.
Jeep introduced the Wrangler 4xe earlier this month. Wrangler 4xe models will be available in Europe, China and the U.S. by early 2021. The Jeep Renegade 4xe and Compass 4xe models, introduced last year in Geneva, began arriving in Europe this summer. The 4xe models follow the introduction of the Jeep Grand Commander PHEV in China last year.