Bruce Springsteen—notorious for avoiding ad appearances—might finally be in a big one: The Boss appears poised to star in Jeep’s Super Bowl ad.
Local media reports out of Nebraska documented his travels in the state in recent days that appear to be related to shooting a Big Game ad for the car brand. NTV, an ABC affiliate in the state, on Wednesday cited a now-deleted tweet from an airport in Hastings, Nebraska that stated “Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen lands in Hastings to film a Jeep commercial in Blue Hill for the Super Bowl,” referring to a small town south of the city.
Also on Wednesday, an Associated Press report picked up by the Lincoln Journal Star speculated about a chartered jet landing at the Hastings airport early Sunday, after a three-hour trip from New Jersey. The report also cited social media posts from area residents who were “quick to identify the mystery visitor.” The AP also stated that a local sheriff confirmed that “a film crew shot something on the Republican River bridge south of Red Cloud and had hired a couple of off-duty deputies for security.”
A spokeswoman for Jeep-owner Stellantis told Ad Age that “we don’t comment on speculation.” The company, formerly called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, on Wednesday confirmed that Jeep would run an ad in the second half of Sunday’s game, but did not provide details.
Stellantis Chief Marketing Officer Oliver Francois—known for luring big-name stars for Super Bowl ads—has been chasing Springsteen to appear in an ad for years. He discussed his desire to lure the Boss in a 2018 interview with Ad Age. "He's not for sale," he conceded back then. "He's not for rent. And there's nothing you have that he wants."
But the circumstances the nation is in this year—battered by political strife and the pandemic—could possibly have changed things, making an appearance by a star who is known for his social activism more palatable.
Still, it would be quite a coup for Jeep if the brand gets the Boss on board. Springsteen has famously resisted appearing in ads for commercial products, notes Jeremy Mullman, a partner at marketing agency ICF Next. “I am unaware of anything. He’s always been pretty resistant to that,” says Mullman, a Springsteen super fan who runs the Twitter account @SpringsteenSays, which regularly posts Springsteen lyrics and has drawn nearly 50,000 followers.
He points to reports that Springsteen in the 1980s turned down an approach by former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, who was rumored to offer Springsteen several million dollars to use “Born in the USA” for a commercial.
Still, Mullman notes that “it would make sense that if he was ever to do something that an American auto brand would be the right place to show up given his history with cars and the iconography of the automobile in general.”
And Francois has a way of seizing on the moment in the Super Bowl. Last year he lured Bill Murray to appear in a Big Game ad that reprised his role from the movie “Groundhog Day,” taking advantage of the fact that the holiday fell on Super Bowl Sunday. In 2011, Francois got Eminem to appear in the award-winning “Imported from Detroit” ad that was credited with burnishing the image of Chrysler and the Motor City. And in 2012, he got Clint Eastwood to star in the “Halftime in America” ad that drew parallels between the fall and rise of the U.S. auto industry and the fortitude of the American people.