Bruce Springsteen, who traditionally shuns any kind of corporate tie-in, has partnered with Jeep for “The Middle,” a two-minute ad that debuted on the car brand’s social media platforms at midnight ET on Sunday (Feb. 7) and will air during the Super Bowl on CBS.
“Olivier Francois [global chief marketing officer for Jeep parent Stellantis] 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 spot recalls past patriotic, emotional Super Bowl spots also overseen by Francois while at Fiat Chrysler Automobile, such as Eminem’s 2011 “Imported From Detroit” Chrysler commercial and the 2013 Ram ad “Farmer.” (FCA and Groupe PSA merged earlier this year to form Stellantis.)
Like those previous short films, “The Middle” features sweeping footage of great expanses of America’s heartland, as Springsteen voices a narrative about a chapel in Lebanon, Kansas — “standing on the exact center of the lower 48. It never closes, all are more than welcome” — before going into broader themes about how divided we have become. “It’s no secret, the middle has been a hard place to get to lately, between red and blue…between our freedom and our fear,” he continues.
Springsteen appears in the ad, driving a Jeep through snow-lined streets, as the commercial’s elegiac score, written by Springsteen and Ron Aniello, unspools.
He goes on to speak about how “freedom, it’s not the property of just the fortunate few. It belongs to us all…it’s what connects us and we need that connection… we just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground,” as he lights a candle in the chapel.
Evoking Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, he declares, “We can make it to the mountaintop, through the desert, and we will cross this divide. Our light has always found its way through the darkness and there’s hope on the road up ahead.” The clip ends with a map of the country with the words, “To the ReUnited States of America.”
“We have looked at making meaningful and emotional connections with millions of viewers, with cultural relevancy at the core of our communication,” Francois said in a statement. “’The Middle’ is a celebration of the Jeep brand’s 80-year anniversary and, more timely, it is a call to all Americans to come together and seek common ground as we look collectively to the road ahead.”
Francois says Springsteen was also instrumental in crafting the message, along with the Doner Agency in Michigan. “His experiences and perspective have often been called upon to bridge a divide. Now seems to be a time when a message like this is greatly needed.”