Was Bruce Springsteen the Most “Authentic” Spokesperson for the Automaker’s Campaign?
2/10/21 – – Among the advertisements that ran during last weekend’s Super Bowl broadcast, Jeep’s spot featuring Bruce Springsteen has received plenty of media attention — positive and negative.
Some observers love the ad’s “To the ReUnited States of America” message and applaud the use of “The Boss” as an effective messenger. At the same time, critics have panned Jeep’s call for national unity, wondering what relevance the theme has to the product and questioning Springsteen’s involvement, citing his long-standing political partisanship.
I have to say, I found Springsteen’s starring role in the ad to be puzzling. Authenticity is highly valued by today’s consumer. My first impression of the ad was that it lacked authenticity.
Starting with his vocal opposition to George W. Bush, Springsteen has been an outspoken champion of Democrat political candidates, contributing his time and talents to the Obama, Clinton and Biden presidential campaigns. He’s expressed some strong political opinions, threatening to move to Australia if American voters gave Donald Trump a second term. Of course, he has every right to hold and express whatever political views he wants. But he’s chosen not to be a “let’s all come together” guy.
In addition, Springsteen is unapologetically from New Jersey. The ad is focused on a church in Kansas, featuring scenes of Bruce driving country roads in the “middle of America” in a decades-old Jeep. He looks very out of place in a vehicle he clearly would not drive (you don’t see many open-air vintage Jeeps on the Garden State Parkway) on roads I’m sure he’d never traveled before.
Adding to the criticism of the ad, people in Michigan — home to our nation’s automotive industry — were offended when a map of the US featured in the spot dropped off the state’s Upper Peninsula. The Detroit Free Press reported: “Michiganders watched as the map of the ‘ReUnited States’ left out our northern brothers.”
And today, things went from bad to worse. We learned that in November Springsteen was arrested for drunken/reckless driving in a New Jersey state park. As the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up.
Alex Otte, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, issued this statement:
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is outraged to learn that Bruce Springsteen was arrested three months ago for drunk and reckless driving. The fact that this arrest was not revealed by authorities in New Jersey until after Springsteen’s appearance driving a Jeep in a high-priced Super Bowl commercial is infuriating. Drunk driving is the number one killer on America’s roads.
It seems Bruce did not inform the good folks at Jeep of his problem ahead of the ad’s debut. Jeep today released the following statement:
It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate . . . it’s also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established.
Maybe this is not a crisis for Jeep or its parent company, Netherlands-based Stellantis. But it’s sure embarrassing. The ill-conceived campaign brings a sarcastic marketing saying to mind:
Authenticity is everything. Once you learn how to fake that, you’ve got it made.