Bruce Springsteen starred in a two-minute Super Bowl advertisement for Jeep and portrayed far more American and landscape than any vehicles.
Rob DeMartin for Jeep
According to Olivier Francois, Jeep’s Super Bowl commercial starring Bruce Springsteen was a decade-long automotive marketing executive who is well known for convincing A-list celebrities who appear in such advertisements.
Every year since 2011, Francois said that he is giving an idea to Springsteen’s manager John Landau for the Super Bowl commercial. This became somewhat of a tradition, although Francois thought that there was no possibility of this happening.
Springsteen, who had never appeared in a commercial before, why? It dates back to the automaker’s former CEO, Sergio Marchionne, who died unexpectedly in 2018. The Italian-Canadian businessman was an admirer of the singer and regularly used his music during productions and shows, adding Springsteen’s personality to the company.
“What you see today is really a 10-year story in the making,” Francois told CNBC. “We started discussing Bruce – about Bruce, not with him, about me – with my old boss, Sergio. … He loved the music of Bruce Springsteen.”
Francois, chief marketing officer of Jeep’s parent company Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler), has persuaded Detroit rapper Eminem and musician Bob Dylan to act in the company’s commercials. He even landed Oprah Winfrey for a voiceover once. Last year, François convinced elusive actor Bill Murray to re-accept his role for a Super Bowl advertisement from the 1993 film “Ground Day”.
He said that his “biggest regret” was not being able to go commercial with Springsteen while Marchion was alive. “My biggest regret today is that they never managed to meet. I always promised them that I would make something and I was too late.”
Francois first called Springsteen on Super Bowl Commercial in 2012, “It’s Haltime in America”, starring actor Clint Eastwood, another celebrity who appeared in commercials or engaged himself in a product or company Is not known for The ad portrayed Eastwood as the nation’s coach, urging America to learn from the resurgence of the Detroit auto industry.
Francois called this year’s ad a “successor” to that commercial as well as others, such as the 2013 Super Bowl spot “Palmer”. Both were cinematic, country pro advertisements featuring some real vehicles.
In this year’s commercial “The Middle”, Springsteen is walking around in an old jeep and talking about a chapel located in the center of the country, called the US Center Chapel in Lebanon, Kansas. He used an extremely small chapel as a base to talk about the country, needing to “meet here in the middle” before ending up with “America’s Reorganized States”. This was followed by a website and logo for Jeep, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2021.
Bruce Springsteen (left) with Stalantis Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois, during the filming of the company’s Super Bowl LV ad for Jeep.
Rob DeMartin for Jeep
In a press release, Landau stated that as soon as he saw the pitch, he decided it was something he needed to do.
“Olivier Francois and I had been discussing ideas for the past 10 years and when he showed us the outline for ‘The Middle’, our immediate reaction was, ‘Let’s do it,” he said. “Our goal was to do something surprising, relevant, immediate, and artistic. I believe that’s what Bruce has done with ‘The Middle’.”
Francois believes the ad’s message was on-point with Springsteen’s beliefs and struck a “perfect balance” between the company’s purpose and the singer, having heard a campaign commercial for Joe Biden last year.
Francois stated that Springsteen was involved in the making of the Jeep ad, and he worked closely with director Thom Jimny. He wrote and produced the original score for the commercial with his frequent collaborator Ron Aniello.
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According to Francois, the commercial with Springsteen almost did not happen. After 10 years of rejection by the singer’s manager, he had decided not to give Landst an idea for Springsteen.
“I think this is the first year I haven’t asked any agency to try to crack the Bruce Springsteen idea,” he said. “I think it took me 10 years to realize that this is never happening. Obviously I was mistaken, but that’s what I thought. And it was also an abuse of John Landau and Bruce’s time.”
Bruce Springsteen starred in a two-minute Super Bowl ad for Jeep and portrayed the Americas and landscape more than any vehicle.
Rob DeMartin for Jeep
Until Southfield, Michigan-based advertising agency Donner rejected the idea of ”The Middle”. After contacting Landau in early January to say Happy New Year, François decided to send the ad agency’s pitch to him. Francois said that Landau believed receiving the pitch that it was “the right message.”
“Yes, he takes a stand, but he takes a stand for the middle,” Francois said. “It’s not a liberal. It’s not a Republican. It’s just a thing that stands for the non-political arena. The most important basis.”
The message resonates with the audience. Since being published on YouTube on Sunday morning, the ad has been viewed nearly 24 million times. This is almost four times the combined audience of other automotive Super Bowl advertisements from General Motors, Toyota Motor and online car seller Woomer.