In “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray plays a character who spends most of the movie trying to escape living the same day over and over, including one scene where he drives a red Chevy truck right over a cliff. For its Super Bowl ad, Jeep puts a new twist on the 1993 flick—and it’s all about Murray having a raucous good time, groundhog in tow.
The ad by Chicago-based Highdive seizes on the fact that Super Bowl Sunday is Groundhog Day. It was released on game day at 6 a.m. The timing is a nod to the oft-repeated scene in the movie in which Murray, playing meteorologist Phil Connors, realizes he is stuck once again in the same day.
But in the ad, his dread quickly becomes joy. “That’s different,” he says, looking past the old Chevy and gazing at a new Jeep Gladiator (a subtle dig at the competing brand). Just like in the movie, he kidnaps the groundhog. But this time, the critter and weatherman have all kinds of fun.
One day, Murray, playing Connors again, straps a tiny helmet on the groundhog and puts him in the front basket of a Jeep-branded electric bike. Another scene shows Connors playing whack-a-mole. “It’s not personal,” he tells the groundhog, “it’s just a game.” The spot ends with this tagline: “No day is ever the same in a Jeep Gladiator.”
Also reprising their roles from the movie are Stephen Tobolowsky, who plays nerdy insurance salesman Ned Ryerson; and Brian Doyle Murray, who again appears as the top hat-wearing Groundhog Day master of ceremonies.
Jeep shot the ad last weekend in Woodstock, Illinois, the Chicago-area town where the 1993 movie was shot. Jeep owner Fiat Chrysler, which sat out last year’s Super Bowl, was among the last brands to confirm that it bought time in this year’s game. The decision was announced in the wake of Fox’s move to add more commercial time to accommodate big-spending brands interested in snaring ad time in the game, which Fox had previously said was sold out.
Fiat Chrysler Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois in a press release made public today stated that “magic first happened when I had the incredible luck to meet Bill in person a few years ago, and I knew then that he was perfect for Jeep. Because like Jeep, Bill is a free spirit, he intentionally seeks out ways to find adventure and live an extraordinary life.”
Francois added: “When we learned that Groundhog Day fell on Super Bowl Sunday for the second time in 54 years, we couldn’t help but take that chance. The stars magically aligned.”
Jeep in the press release stated that it “worked closely with Sony Pictures to ensure authenticity with the original film.” The brand also secured the rights to “I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher, the song that plays during the 6 a.m. alarm clock scene.
Murray and Doyle Murray also did their best to recapture the vibe from the movie: According to Jeep, the two actors requested to stay at the same Holiday Inn where they stayed when they filmed the original movie.