Here's something Bruce Springsteen probably doesn't hear too often: Sorry, Bruce, but you're no Eminem.
Ten years after the bombshell Chrysler Super Bowl commercial that told the rest of the country Detroit is back and cooler than your city, the same agency -- Doner, in Southfield -- is back with a similar ad that feels just a little ... derivative.
Of course the nation will lap it up like a kitten at a dish of cream, because, to echo Eminem's statement in that 2011 Chrysler ad: "This is America. This is what we do." "This" meaning "get sentimental about an evocative car ad with emotional music, a giant of popular music and a message that will stop the chatter at the dip bowl and make at least some people kinda teary."
Called "The Middle," it features Springsteen behind the wheel of an older blue Jeep headed to the Center Chapel, which sits "at the exact center of the lower 48," near Lebanon, Kan. Here in this chapel, "all are more than welcome, to come meet here, in the middle."
The middle, he goes on "has been a hard place to get to, lately," and by now, even the Super Bowl party guest who's four or five beers in knows he's talking about our tragically divided nation.
Ad Age goes on:
Instead of overtly plugging a new Jeep, the ad shows vintage models including a 1980 Jeep CJ-5 and 1965 Willys Jeep CJ-5 against rugged American scenes that include rushing water in Golden, Colorado; Davies Chuck Wagon Restaurant near Denver; and rural landscapes in Hastings, Nebraska. The ad ends back at the chapel where Springsteen urges hope, lighting a candle while suggesting that "our light has always found its way through the darkness." The ad's parting message: "To the ReUnited States of America."
The rest of the story details how Oliver Francois, the chief marketing officer for Stellantis, the newly formed parent company of Fiat Chrysler and its French partner, leaned on Team Springsteen for years before the aging rocker finally relented.
The ad was shot over a few days in late January; the Kansas landscape is covered with snow, and it looks a little chilly for an open-top Jeep. The story goes on:
But the ad very much fits the Francois Super Bowl motif of injecting his brands into the cultural conversation, like 2011's award-winning "Imported From Detroit" effort starring Eminem, credited with burnishing the image of Chrysler and the Motor City.
When it comes to delivering a down-the-middle political message, Springsteen is not a purist. He is a noted Democrat, known for performing at political rallies on behalf of presidential candidates. In a June interview with The Atlantic, he called Trump "a threat to our democracy." But he went on to express hope for unity, alluding to the Black Lives Matter movement while saying "the demonstrations have been white people and Black people and Brown people gathering together in the enraged name of love. That's a good sign."
It's not a bad ad, and people will respond to it. But we still think Eminem's Chrysler ad was better. Watch the Springsteen Jeep ad:
See Chrysler/Eminem commercial in 2011.