Among the most controversial commercials from the Super Bowl was the Jeep commercial. Jeep, which has previously branded itself as the rugged, outdoorsy and tough vehicle, put Bruce Springsteen behind the wheel of a Jeep while he drove around lecturing people about how suddenly because Orange Man Bad is no longer President, we are now “reunited.”
However, Jeep’s choice for spokesman turned out to be about as tone-deaf of a decision that could have been made.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 10, 2021
After Quaker Oats’ decisions in rebranding Aunt Jemima, I wondered what brand could potentially handle an advertising strategy worse. Turns out, the answer to that question is Jeep.
First, if you were to consider what the political leanings of the average Jeep driver might be, literally stating that the person they likely voted for was solely responsible for all of the division we have had in the country, probably isn’t the smartest course of action. Secondarily, choosing a spokesman who has been public in his criticism of the supporters of the now-former president, likely isn’t going to go well either. However, neither of those factors appears to have been considered.
Springsteen’s arrest was from November 14th, 2020, nearly a full 3 months before the Super Bowl. Had the commercial been filmed before that, they likely would have been made aware of the charges pending against the aging rocker.
There are several possibilities here as to what happened and none of them cast a good light on any of the parties involved. First is that Springsteen was arrested but kept it a secret from Jeep, which was likely a violation of any contract Springsteen had with Jeep. Whether it was filmed before or after the arrest, Springsteen should have notified Jeep of his DUI and how the optics of such a charge, may not put him in a good place to be sitting behind the wheel. The second and more likely of the cases is that Jeep knew, and still put Springsteen behind the wheel of a vehicle in a commercial, while he is still facing charges for DUI. As was the case with the Aunt Jemima rebranding, I seriously have no idea how this got past a whole marketing department of a company.
If you remember, several years ago Trivago’s spokesman was pinched for a DUI, leading to him being immediately relieved of his spokesman duties for the company. Trivago was quick to issue statements condemning his behavior and stated that it did not reflect Trivago’s culture. Exactly how many statements have been released from Jeep? Zero. Their silence on the matter is deafening, especially considering how they could issue some statement condemning the behavior. Considering Springsteen’s dangerous behavior could have gotten himself or other people killed, you’d think that part of “reuniting” the states would be uniting behind condemning behavior that could injure or kill people. I still have zero clues how a room full of advertising professionals, green-lit a car commercial in the full knowledge that Springsteen was fighting DUI charges.
It is either the most crazily overlooked thing in recent advertising history, or it amounts to the most tone-deaf car commercial in a long time.
Here are a couple of my favorite tweets:
Was he in a Jeep? #SuperBowl
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 10, 2021
Sir, please step out of the Jeep pic.twitter.com/U9GHPkuejC
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) February 10, 2021