Bruce Springsteen stars and narrates a two-minute Super Bowl ad called “The Middle” for Jeep.
Bruce Springsteen is encouraging Americans to meet “in the middle” during a Super Bowl LV ad for Jeep – his first-ever appearance in a commercial.
The iconic musician, known as “The Boss,” stars in and narrates the scenic two-minute ad, which features far more Americana and landscape than Jeeps. The only vehicles in the ad are a 1980 Jeep CJ-5 and a 1965 Willys Jeep CJ-5. Both models are predecessors to the brand’s current Wrangler SUV.
During “The Middle,” Springsteen talks about a chapel located in the center of the country called U.S. Center Chapel in Lebanon, Kansas. He uses the extremely small chapel as the basis to talk about the country needing to “meet here, in the middle” before the ad ends with “To the ReUnited States of America.” That’s followed by a website and logos for Jeep, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2021.
“It’s no secret … The middle has been a hard place to get to lately. Between red and blue. Between servant and citizen. Between our freedom and our fear,” Springsteen says. “Now, fear has never been the best of who we are. And as for freedom, it’s not the property of just the fortunate few; it belongs to us all.”
The ad is reminiscent of past Super Bowl ads from Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer of Jeep’s parent company, Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler). Specifically, a 2013 Super Bowl commercial called “Farmer” that featured the voice of iconic radio broadcaster Paul Harvey and another semi-political ad starring Clint Eastwood called “It’s Halftime in America” in 2012. Both were scenic, pro-country ads featuring few actual vehicles.
“It is absolutely meant to be a successor,” Francois told CNBC. “This is our style. This is our language. This is our approach to Super Bowl. We really were trying to achieve a little bit of what we achieved in these other commercials, which is really relevance and meaning and something that will really tap into the moment.”
Timeliness and relevance are pillars to Francois’ advertising style. He’s also well-known for casting A-list celebrities that aren’t usually associated with advertising in unconventional commercials. Past Super Bowl ads have included Detroit rapper Eminem, musician Bob Dylan as well as a voiceover by Oprah Winfrey. Last year, Francois convinced elusive actor Bill Murray to reprise his role from the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” for a Super Bowl ad.
A company spokeswoman declined to say how much the ad cost, including the fee for Springsteen, who is not known for appearing in ads but did lend his voice to a campaign commercial last year for Joe Biden.
Fiat Chrysler CMO Olivier Francois (left) with actor Bill Murray during the filming of the Jeep brand’s 2020 Super Bowl commercial.
Francois said Springsteen was intimately involved in creating the ad, and worked closely with director Thom Zimny. He wrote and produced the original score for the commercial with another one of his frequent collaborators, Ron Aniello.
“Olivier Francois and I have been discussing ideas for the last 10 years and when he showed us the outline for ‘The Middle,’ our immediate reaction was, ‘Let’s do it,'” Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, said in a statement. “Our goal was to do something surprising, relevant, immediate and artful. I believe that’s just what Bruce has done with ‘The Middle’.”
The ad was created in partnership with Michigan-based agency Doner. The spot was filmed over five days in late January in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.