The Jeep® brand has quietly pulled its “The Middle” campaign, which was launched this past Sunday during Super Bowl LV that featured singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen. The two-minute-long short film received praise and criticism after it debuted during the second half of Sunday’s “Big Game”. The short film called on Americans to pull together surround the on-going pandemic, racial tensions, and the presidential election, which caused a backlash on social media on all sides of the spectrum.
The Detroit News broke the story about the campaign being pulled on Wednesday after Jeep pulled all of the subject material off of its social media channels. The reason behind the discontinuation of the film was due not to the controversy from feedback on social media, but due to Springsteen getting arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and reckless driving back in November.
Springsteen shot “The Middle” in a 5-day span during the month of January, two months after his arrest. The decision to pull the ads will be a costly one for the Jeep brand. Despite CBS taking an additional two months to sell out its ad space during Super Bowl LV, it is rumored to cost some companies up to $5.5 million for a 30-second spot.
The Detroit News reached out to Jeep for a response about the pulling of the ads. “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate,” a Jeep representative said in a statement. “But it’s also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established. Its message of community and unity is as relevant as ever. As is the message that drinking and driving can never be condoned.”
For Olivier Francois, Global Chief Marketing Officer for Stellantis, it could be a critical decision to cast Springsteen despite the two-month knowledge of his arrest. Francois has been the backbone of the famed Super Bowl ads for the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram brands for over the past decade. Those included the famed “Imported From Detroit” commercial for the 2011 Chrysler 200, the “Farmer” ad for the Ram brand featuring legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey in 2013, and last year’s “Groundhog Day” ad featuring actor/comedian Bill Murray with the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon.
Springsteen has been reluctant to appear in commercials in the past, although he recently did do some campaign material for Democratic President Joe Biden, during his 2020 Presidential campaign. Springsteen also performed “Land of Hope and Dreams” at the Lincoln Memorial during the evening of Biden’s inauguration to celebrate his win. This led to conservative Jeep fans wondering if he was an ideal choice for Jeep’s bringing the country together pitch during the Super Bowl.
Jeep was also under fire from conservatives after several brand-new Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler models were showcased in a “secure zone” at Biden’s victory speech, despite the brand saying it played no role in the event and added the automaker does not endorse political candidates.
Despite what the media and social media had to say about the short-film, it wasn’t the first time that the Jeep brand had released a political-themed ad. In 2017 after President Donald Trump took office, the brand released the “Free to Be” 30-second ad again trying to pull the country together after the heated election of 2016 between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
One last debate over the Springsteen ad was the fact that the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan was missing from the lower 48 states during the ad. MoparInsiders received several e-mails regarding the absence and how ironic that the Stellantis brands do cold-weather testing on several of its vehicles in the U.P. community of Houghton, Michigan. Even the Detroit Free Press stated that “One of our own has betrayed us”.
So what do you think of Jeep’s decision to pull the Springsteen ad? Let us know in the MoparInsiders.com forums.