we all need to get out more...

Lloyd Taylor, Cliff Jones, and Steve Mollenhauer were three adventurer seeking mates who souped up their vee-dub beach buggies for thrills. Soon everyone wanted a piece of the action. They took note, formed a company, and called it TJM. That was in 1973. It became the first company in Australia to manufacture and distribute quality 4-wheel drive equipment.

TJM. 4×4 equipped. Now they’re responsible for vehicle protection, recovery, drive performance, suspension, exterior, interior, electronics and camping. 61 stores throughout Australia, and they’ve also broken into the US market in San Diego and California. No easy feat.

Exciting times.

But the brand needed refreshing. It was all too rational. The brand needed to connect more to the average Aussie.

nextThursday was given the opportunity for a brand refresh for TJM. After some strategic workshops, we realised that the typical 4WD owner really doesn’t get out and explore this incredible country of ours as much as they say they do. They certainly have the intention to do so, as well as the perfect conduit to get out there and explore: a 4WD. But dig deeper and you soon realise they’re missing the crucial ingredient – confidence. And you get that by having the right equipment.

“They're missing the crucial ingredient.”

Andy Iles, Creative Director

The campaign direction we came up with is ‘TAKE THE LEAD’. It tells the consumer that they’re ready and capable to get out there and explore. To go to Kakadu. To stop thinking ‘one of these days’. That they can take the lead, for once. That they can travel solo. With confidence. Take the lead is encouraging. It’s telling you to step up and enjoy your off-road vehicle, the way it was intended. It’s reminding you why you bought the bloody thing to begin with. It has the power for TJM, the brand, to become the mentor. The advisor. The brand you can trust.

I'd rather be a wolf than a sheep anyday...

And we love it because it’s not chest beating. Many brands fall into this trap of telling the public how amazing their products are. Well, unfortunately, it’s not effective. Or memorable. Or even clever. Think about it. You’re in a bar (remember, being in a bar, pre-Covid days….) and you’ve have been cornered by a guy who just thinks he’s awesome. And he’ll keep on telling you how awesome he is. It’s a kind of ‘one-upmanship syndrome’. You can’t wait to skull and get out of there. It’s the same with any brand. And it’s so easy to do. Talk to the consumer. Encourage them. Tell them something new. Engage with them. Just don’t bore the tits’ off them.

I personally love creating outdoor. It’s the most rewarding medium. You can’t turn it off, or interrupt it. It must be single-minded. As few words as possible.

Here are some of the initial outdoor executions we did for the Perth market a few months ago.

And there’s plenty more to come too.

As well as outdoor, we produced a 30-second tv spot, directed by Miles Murphy, from Happy films. This was broken up into retail spots that can be updated whenever the client needs. A great position for a brand to be in. Accompanying the tv were radio ads. Altogether, a cost-effective brand and retail campaign that we can keep fresh for years to come.

My favourite is the Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde execution. It resonated well with the audience. You could see customers driving into a store with a standard 4WD and literally feel like Mr Hyde in their pimpmobile driving out
Says it all really. Attitude. Confident.

But another aspect to the campaign is how well it was received internally. A lot of brands forget just how important it is to engage their own staff. It’s crucial to have them onboard. ‘Take the lead’ works internally just as well.

For example, this is how some of the staff responded to the campaign before we went live…

“TAKE THE LEAD feels like TJM are giving me permission to step up. To go for that job promotion I didn’t think I was ready to tackle.”

“It feels like the national network is working together, like a tribe. It sets the benchmark high for everybody”.

“It sounds like head office have now got our back. And that’s so reassuring”.

“Feels like we’re future-proofing the company. And feels respectful. Like we now deserve to ‘take the lead’ as a company, ‘cause we’ve paid our dues. We’ve done all our product testing in the harshest conditions – Australia. We know what we’re selling”.

Staff shirts at a trade show


Once again, confidence. Not chest beating.

All in all, it is a positive campaign without being arrogant. Never a backward step when you ‘Take the lead’.

So go on. Take the lead yourself. (After the Covid19 restrictions have been lifted). You might just bump into Taylor, Jones, and Mollenhauer somewhere out there. They’d love to share a beer with you.


Creative Director, next Thursday