Jeep’s Super Bowl commercial starring Bruce Springsteen was a decade in the making, according to Olivier Francois, an automotive marketing executive who has become well known for convincing A-list celebrities to appear in such ads.
Every year since 2011, Francois said he’s pitched an idea to Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, for a Super Bowl commercial. It became somewhat of a tradition, although Francois thought there was little to no chance of it happening.
Why Springsteen, who had never appeared in a commercial before? It dates back to the automaker’s former CEO, Sergio Marchionne, who unexpectedly died in 2018. The Italian-Canadian businessman was a fan of the singer and regularly used his music during presentations and events, linking Springsteen’s persona to the company’s.
“What you see today really is a 10-year story in the making,” Francois told CNBC. “We started discussing Bruce – about Bruce, not with him, about – with my old boss, Sergio. … He loved Bruce Springsteen’s music.”
Francois, chief marketing officer of Jeep’s parent company, Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler), has convinced Detroit rapper Eminem and musician Bob Dylan to star in the company’s ads. He even landed Oprah Winfrey for a voiceover once. Last year, Francois convinced elusive actor Bill Murray to reprise his role from the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” for a Super Bowl ad.
He said his “biggest regret” was not being able to make the commercial with Springsteen happen while Marchionne was alive. “My biggest regret today is that they never managed to meet. I always promised him that I would make something happen and I delivered a little bit too late,” Francois said.
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