The legendary Bruce Springsteen is a lot of things to a lot of people, but he’s never exactly been the face of a marketing campaign before. His music, yes, but not the man. But if you’re tuning into Super Bowl LV tonight, you’re going to see a familiar face—and learn that Springsteen has partnered up with Jeep.
The commercial is less a commercial than it is a mini-film, which you’d expect from someone like Springsteen. Clocking in at two minutes, this short clip is called “The Middle,” and it only features two vehicles: 1980 Jeep CJ-5 and a 1965 Willys Jeep CJ-5.
That’s because this isn’t really an advertisement for a product so much as it is a plea to Americans to “meet in the middle.” Or, essentially, to give up our partisan behaviors and offer a little compassion to one another.
In the two-act commercial, Springsteen talks about a chapel in the center of the country, the U.S. Center Chapel in Lebanon, Kansas. In a voiceover, he notes, ““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. 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.”
It ends with the slogan “To the ReUnited States of America” followed by the Jeep website and logo. You can watch the full clip below:
So, why did “The Boss” agree to go ahead with an advertisement for the first time in his career? It’s the message behind it more than anything else, and it wasn’t an easy agreement for Springsteen. In fact, he only agreed to film the commercial a few weeks ago, according to Vanity Fair. Here’s more from the story:
Springsteen thought the concept would be very spiritual, says [chief marketing officer of Stellantis Oliver] Francois. “He looked at this as a prayer,” and that interpretation played a role in whether the musician would contribute one of his actual songs to the piece, an idea Francois says was indeed under consideration. “If this is a prayer, he didn’t want the music to distract from that.” Springsteen opted to contribute a score instead, with Francois requesting the music finish on an upbeat note after the artist’s voice over finished.
It’s certainly an idea that will hit home for a lot of folks after one of America’s most chaotic election seasons (although I do have to admit that I find a bit of humor in the fact that this uplifting message has to be conveyed through the auspices of religion and capitalism).
And it’s definitely a good thing for Jeep and Stellantis. Countless automakers have been pulling out of the Super Bowl, so we won’t have the ads we’ve come to expect during the big game. Jeep pushing forward with the Springsteen idea will give the message a little extra oomph in an ad-less vacuum.