- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2021

TAMPA — Jeep starred iconic singer Bruce Springsteen in his first ever ad promoting the idea of unity. The ad shows scenes of middle America, including a small chapel in Lebanon, Kansas, near the geographic center of the country. Springsteen visits the chapel and lights a candle.

“It’s no secret the middle has been a hard place to get to lately, between red and blue, servant and citizen, freedom and fear,” Springsteen intones, adding “we need the middle.”

Springsteen scored the ad and contributed to adapting the script, which is from Michigan ad agency Doner.

The ad echoed, without explicitly mentioning, President Joe Biden’s calls to summon American resilience and unity to confront the nation’s deep divisions. Springsteen also performed remotely at the prime-time celebration following Biden’s inauguration last month.

In an interview with the AP, Fiat Chrysler chief marketing officer Olivier Francois said the company had more light hearted ads in place to run during its two minutes of air time during the game, but in January they heard that — after years of asking whether Springsteen would be interested in doing a FCA commercial — Springsteen was on board with the “Road Ahead” concept. So they shot it in one 12-hour day last Sunday and edited it throughout the week.

FCA is known for creating iconic Super Bowl ads such as “Imported in Detroit” in 2011 that featured Eminem talking about the toughness of his home city and last year’s hit ad that remade “Groundhog’s Day” With Bill Murray. But not all FCA ads have been successes. In 2018, an ad for Ram Trucks that quoted a Martin Luther King Jr. speech on the 50th anniversary of his death was widely criticized for seemingly commercializing the civil rights icon.

During a year when most advertisers shunned the serious for a light hearted tone, Olivier said it was worth taking the risk on a serious ad in order to create a “healing” commercial that will be remembered long after the game.

“There’s a divide and Bruce wants to do one thing, speak to the common ground,” he said. “It doesn’t take a stand, left or right, blue or red, the only stand it takes is the middle.”

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