The most Shamazed Super Bowl ad of 2016 — by a huge margin — was Jeep’s “4x4ever,” featuring original music performed by Morgan Dorr, bass player of pop-punk act Boys Like Girls and lead singer of Best Of Friends. The 60-second spot was Shazamed over 40,000 times, leaving its closest competitor, the Heinz spot featuring Harry Nilsson’s “Without You” in the dust with a little over 3,000 Shazams.
What makes the Jeep spot all the more remarkable is that it was the only Super Bowl music-driven spot that didn’t feature a big name or a hit song or even a synch. “4x4ever” is an original track that the Jeep brand commissioned specifically for the spot, deliberately using an artist that wasn’t widely known.
It’s part of Jeep’s strategy to differentiate itself from the competition in terms of music use.
“This is just one more example of how we do things differently at FCA,” said Olivier Francois, global chief marketing officer for FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), following the Super Bowl. “Music continues to be one of the strongest ways we have to authentically align a brand with the relevance of a moment — in this case, reaching the Super Bowl audience. ‘4x4ever’ was created as an original song specifically for the brand because there was no other piece of music that existed that could tell this Jeep story.”
As a highly musical brand, especially under Olivier, FCA has made it a point to partner with big names, including Eminem in 2011’s much-lauded “Imported From Detroit” spot to Jennifer Lopez‘s Fiat spots. But last year, the company went for something completely different when it partnered with Interscope Records and X Ambassadors to launch the song “Renegades” for its Jeep Renegade campaign.
The track became a huge hit, climbing to No. 15 on the Hot 100 and spending 35 weeks on the chart. It was No. 1 on five Billboard charts, including Hot Rock Songs and Alternative Songs.
For Francois, who was aiming at a millennial target, it was a resounding success.
“We all know this group of people [millennials] don’t like classical advertising,” he said. “They don’t want us to just slap some hits they already know in a commercial. They want to discover trends. So, we have to behave like them and discover trends and share. We started with big names before. But today, I’m developing a very intense dialogue with millennials through emerging artists.
In developing the current “4x4ever” campaign, Francois called Brian Monaco, executive vp and worldwide head of advertising, film & TV for Sony/ATV Music Publishing, with whom he’s long done projects together. Francois told Monaco he was looking for a song for the new Jeep campaign, and provided him what was predominantly a rap track that had been recorded by Jeep’s agency, DDB.
Monaco called several of his writers, and using the DDB track as a starting point, worked to “change it and make it cooler.” One of those writers was Dorr, who has a distinctive, gravely voice. This wasn’t Dorr’s first shot at a Super Bowl synch: he was one of the few Sony/ATV songwriters who participated in a songwriting and recording camp for Jeep’s 2015 spot, which ultimately went to singer-songwriter Marc Scibilia‘s cover of “This Land Is Your Land.”
“When I called Morgan, all we knew was it was a normal TV spot,” says Monaco. “We went through 30 different versions of the song to get it to where we liked it. A week ago, we got word that it would be in the Super Bowl.”
The “4x4ever” master recording belongs to Sony/ATV with Dorr as the writer, along with John O’Keefe, who is also signed to Sony/ATV, and two writers from DDB.
As part of the agreement with Jeep, Dorr is also featured briefly on the TV spot.
“He provided exactly the right amount of vocal tonality and reach that we needed to capture the Jeep spirit into song, while giving listeners the opportunity to discover something completely new that they could then share with friends,” said Olivier.