When an American brand really wants to make a big statement, it creates a one-off tv spot for the Superbowl.
The final of the American football season is always the most watched broadcast of the year stateside with audiences over 110 million. Plus, it is now a significant global event. So, you can see why many brands are willing to stump up the $5.5 million for a 30 sec spot in the February event. And after the year America has just been through with the most divisive election of all time, it would take a big idea and a big brand to attempt to bring the nation together.
Jeep, as one of the most iconic of all American brands stepped up and managed to pull off not only one of the most talked about Superbowl ads for years, but also convinced one of America’s most iconic performers to get involved in a brand commercial for the very first time.
The Big idea
It could be said that the big idea on this is managing to convince American legend, Bruce Springsteen to do his first tv commercial as opposed to the hard hitting thought behind the ad. Either way it’s a masterpiece in my opinion.
Jeep owners Chrysler had been after Springsteen for over 30 years having reportedly offered him ‘lorryloads of cash’ to use his iconic track, ‘Made in the USA’ and each time rebuffed with his strong stance of not selling out.
So, what changed? Timing in my opinion.
America has never been more divided over politics and the handling of the pandemic. The need to begin building bridges between people had to start somewhere.
'The Middle' is the thought. The idea of bringing divided parties together is at the heart of the commercial. As the Boss says in the voiceover “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.”
The execution and crafting is a joy.
What They Did
Given the desire to get Springsteen involved after years of rebuttals, the ad wasn’t started until mid-January when he finally agreed to be involved. And so engaged was he, he not only appeared in it, but he did the voiceover and wrote the musical score. He clearly bought into the concept and believed in the message of trying to meet in the middle ground of opinion.
This message of 'The Middle' is reinforced early on by starting in the geographical centre of the USA at a small chapel which marks the spot in Lebanon, Kansas and takes us on a journey across the wide-open spaces of America with Bruce at the wheel of his personal 1980 Jeep CJ-5. No sparkling new Jeep models in this ad.
The script is beautiful, and the cinematography is absolutely stunning across the whole 2 minutes ensuring the tone and message is given space and due respect.
The ad builds over the 2 minutes to the end where the message is clear – To the Re-United States of America and a great way to finish a great ad.
As mentioned, Springsteen wrote the musical score with his long-time writing partner, Ron Aniello and it was directed by another Springsteen collaborator, Thom Zimny.
Despite some of the biggest names in music creating this gem and the unknown, but sure to be huge production budget, the ad played out only once.
When I was writing this article, I must have watched the ad 8 or 9 times on YouTube and there would have been a link for you to see it too. But there has been another twist in the tale of this piece.
Springsteen has been cited for drink driving offences in his hometown since the ad aired and Jeep have made the decision to take it down from YouTube for the time being.
So, one of the most talked about ads for a long time is now being talked about for more concerning reasons (hopefully temporarily).
Nobody can condone any kind of drink driving so I can understand why Jeep, as a major automotive brand, had to do this to clearly show their position on the issue.
I wish people were talking more about the ad for the right reasons rather than the wrong reasons with these new driving offence allegations.
There’s nothing in the ad I would change.
For me it’s a masterpiece.