The Springsteen debate: Does his Jeep commercial mean he has sold out?

springsteen jeep debate


Bruce Springsteen in a promotional image released by Jeep.

In 2005, Bruce Springsteen inducted U2 — which had recently done a commercial for iPod — into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Oh my God! They sold out!,” he exclaimed in mock astonishment in his induction speech, before sharing some thoughts on why he had never done a commercial himself. He said that while he has “an insanely expensive lifestyle that my wife barely tolerates,” he also has “a ludicrous image of myself that keeps me from truly cashing in (via a commercial).”

The news that Springsteen has done a commercial for Jeep (you can watch it below) has already spurred debate over whether he has sold out. It is, after all, the first commercial he has done, after having had many opportunities. At the height of Brucemania in the ’80s, he famously turned down $12 million from Chrysler, who wanted to use “Born in the USA” in an ad.

Personally, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Will this affect the way I listen to Springsteen’s music? No, not one bit.

Certainly, there is a part of me that would have preferred that Springsteen remained unsullied by any attachment to any commercial product. But if he has sold out, he has done so in the least objectionable way possible, for these reasons

1. While the two-minute spot is, undeniably, a commercial, and is intended to sell cars, its content is a hopeful message about the future of the country.

2. Springsteen and his producer Ron Aniello created original music for the commercial instead of using one of Springsteen’s past songs, so none of his prior music will be associated with this.

3. The commercial will only be shown on television once, during the Super Bowl, so we’re not going to be bombarded with it (though it will always be available online).

4. I think you’ve got to cut the Boss some slack given that we are almost a year into the pandemic now. Touring has been taken away. Of course, he doesn’t need the money to put food on his family’s table. But, as mentioned above, he does have an insanely expensive lifestyle, plus a bunch of people who work for him — including Aniello, and film director Thom Zimny (who worked on the spot as well), and his management team, and so on. It’s pretty hardhearted to begrudge him his decision to keep some money coming in, in this way, at this time. Most other artists would have done the same.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this in the Comments section below.


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Alex scott February 7, 2021 - 10:28 am

Well said. I don’t see it as a bad thing at all. In 2021 how does an artist remain viable. No tours and no one buys records anymore in this age of streaming. The message is nothing but positive and although the Jeep logo shows up regularly, it’s the message that resonates with me. Bravo Bruce! May 2021 bring many more surprises.

Nicole Pittaluga February 7, 2021 - 10:48 am

A beautiful message. I don’t mind that it’s paid for by a car company. It is aligned with Bruce’s values. As for his ludicrous image of himself that prevented him from cashing in, he has done the work in therapy to understand himself. Plus, along with his lifestyle, there is the anonymous giving that he does consistently to take care of people in need.

Paulette Merwin February 7, 2021 - 10:49 am

In that induction speech for U2 he also said that U2 didn’t take any money for the ad. I don’t know if that is true and it doesn’t matter anyway. It was pretty funny when he was going on about the “Wiley Bono”. I’m not suggesting that Bruce did the same nor do I think it really matters, at least to me. It’s a beautiful ad with a wonderful message we need to hear. I’m thinking of this very personally because my immediate family is divided.

Anne-Marie Cottone February 7, 2021 - 11:09 am

It’s not like Bruce went out there and said “Buy a Jeep.” He’s not singing a jingle extolling the virtues of the brand. It’s more like a sponsored performance. This is a beautiful ad with a beautiful message, and I hope it gets a lot of views.

Kevin McLaughlin February 7, 2021 - 11:10 am

Agree with everything in this analysis. And I would add a few thoughts. 1) It’s about as soft a sell as any commercial will ever be, 2) It’s very tastefully done, with a message no sane person could argue with, and 3) it’s an American made product that I think Bruce believes in and probably owns.

Tina Springer February 8, 2021 - 5:02 am

I think he used his own car in the ad…

Alec February 7, 2021 - 11:21 am

Yes, it is a Jeep ad, and that doesn’t bother me. (For a car ad, you have to admit that at least 80% of the spot has nothing to do with driving a car.) Obviously Bruce wants to use this beautifully-shot spot to be seen by a lot of Americans, so I think he thought of it more as an opportunity to get a (good, heartfelt, important) message across to a lot of people all at once at a difficult time in this country’s history, more than he looked at it as an additional paycheck.

Terry Tressa February 7, 2021 - 11:30 am

Beautifully done, luv Bruce!!!!!

Jon Greer February 7, 2021 - 11:49 am

I’m assuming Bruce himself got paid little to nothing or will quietly donate his earnings to charity. The way to look at this is that Jeep bought the airtime and paid for the production, and got a credit at the end. Yes, he is seen driving a Jeep, but it’s a classic model, not one that is even for sale now.

Reply February 7, 2021 - 11:51 am

I think he got paid a lot. What he does with the money is his business. But yes, he has a long history of being generous with charitable causes.

Tina February 7, 2021 - 4:26 pm

That is his own jeep. I think a 1950.

Jeep Dude February 8, 2021 - 2:18 pm

That is a 1972 CJ-5. A Jeep you cannot buy new now. A Jeep there is no equivalent to in the current product lineup. A Jeep that was priced so that farmers and “people” could buy them. A Jeep that had no frills, electronic whiz-bangs, or anything “digital”. Some genius in marketing probably figured that the current lineup wasn’t “gritty” enough to end up in a marketing image piece that is an anachronism and hypocritical…

Steve February 7, 2021 - 12:35 pm

I stopped seeing an artist as selling out for anything, ever, when I saw this. Who cares? Really.

Kelly Griffin February 7, 2021 - 12:40 pm

This comment is copied from what I just wrote on FB SPRING-NUTS.

Maybe he is donating every cent received to one of his favorite charities like the Foodbank or the foundation he has the provides help to people who need it. I would expect no less from him. I love the message in the commercial and I don’t feel that he has crossed a line. He has found a way to get an important message out to an incredibly large audience. Good for him and good for the corporation and writer that crafted the message.

SMH February 7, 2021 - 2:26 pm

As soon as you start selling cars you are no longer an artist. He used to be the boss. SMH

Dan February 8, 2021 - 9:48 am

Also, it’s very Christianity focused. No one wants to reunite with bigots and people that think insurrection is okay. I also don’t think Jeep give a fuck about unity, just making a profit off the back of the current trying times in the US. This was all about money, nothing else. Bruce did sell out, he sold out hard, and wants you to be friends with trump supporters now.

Michelle Gustavsom February 7, 2021 - 2:44 pm

It doesn’t have the feel of a commercial to me. I think of it as Jeep sponsoring a PSA from Bruce.

Erin Kalbarczyk February 7, 2021 - 4:33 pm

Good for him! The commercial – although that’s not really what it is – serves as a perfect vehicle for his message. It will stand alone during this sporting event, I am sure; the audacity of hope vs commercialism. I’ll take the yellow lab puppy and Clydesdales any day over the other crap, too.

Dan Dunne February 8, 2021 - 1:54 am

I don’t get the whole being sullied “by any attachment to any commercial product.” This disdain for American business is ridiculous. They are part-and-parcel of our society and are deserving of our support. If one has specific issues with a company, fine — protest or boycott or try to change them. But putting up these artificial barriers to protect one’s belief turf is part of the exact problem the spot is trying to address.

Sean February 8, 2021 - 7:34 am

The Artist Formerly Known As Boss (TAFKAB). . .

Guy Thomas February 8, 2021 - 8:52 am

I just love how all the public figures who wanted to crucify Trump,before he ever had a chance,are now wanting to come together,nope.

PA steelworker February 8, 2021 - 9:19 am

He was driving west to talk with Nancy about the middle and common ground, but he gave up and turned back to New Jersey to watch the impeachment trial and to get his covid shot.

Chuck O'Donnell February 8, 2021 - 11:26 am

U2 did not take the money for doing an iPod commercial and the band’s commercial did not contain “a message.” That shows the band respects its fans, which is more than I can say about $pring$teen. PS: Pretty sure he wouldn’t be caught dead driving a Jeep. How proletariat.

Floretta February 8, 2021 - 11:14 pm

Springsteen appears behind the wheel of a 1980 Jeep CJ-5 that Variety reports is his own.

Cecilia February 8, 2021 - 2:22 pm

I guess The Boss used the platform that Jeep (a product he likes and believes) offered him to share the feeling that a dignified American person feels, with all the people who live in the USA. The moment was perfect to spread hope in the heart of each of us, accompanied by a beautiful melody as a background that he composed.
Money, The Boss no longer needs. Thank you, Bruce!

Disillusioned Bruce Fan February 8, 2021 - 6:04 pm

Bruce wants unity now because the candidate he wanted is in office.
Where were his calls for unity before?
Bruce you insult your lifelong fans who have been with you for your entire career with your politics and your opinions. Do you think you are superior to us? Why do people who are paid to entertain feel the need to tell the public their views?

Hypocricy Rules February 9, 2021 - 4:30 am

I find it amusing that for all the ‘unity of the middle’ Bruce is held as ‘salt of the Earth’ and Trump as ‘dung of the camel’ when in reality THEY ARE cut from the same cloth; for all those hypocrites that will never be able to see it. Not least which may be Bruce.

Craig February 9, 2021 - 10:59 am

Well Bruce I guess your cash is running out and you’re trying to be relevant again. And looks like Jeep is jumping the shark for hoping for more sales from the masses who have problems driving their gas saving economical dangerous little cars
Springsteen dumped on America years back fired his band mates and moved to France. Please just move into a community with the likes of the John Cougar and GO AWAY. I have yet to see what unity you can have when your whole agenda is based on lies, But they created a message for the mindless drones voiced by Entertainers not educated experienced individuals with a view on unprivilidged reality we call working America. Was actually looking at buying a Cherokee and will now be buying a 4 Runner. Jeep is no longer going to be considered in my household ever again. PS they aren’t that reliable either kinda like Bruce.

Bimbo Coles February 9, 2021 - 12:42 pm

If “unity” means bowing to the globalists in both parties, forget it.

I’m actually surprised some Karen’s aren’t on here complaining that Springsteen wasn’t wearing a mask.

CRAIG February 10, 2021 - 7:33 pm

Good point on the no mask, But he’s special I wonder if he was driving while under suspension for a DUI he is still going to court next month for. Gotta love it when people do research, I guess driving drunk putting the public at dire risk qualifies your as DEMA god. Please BOYCOTT JEEP and burn that sanctimonious Un American anti Unity has-been out of music history.

ILONA OSBORNE February 11, 2021 - 10:52 am

Only hope he really drives a jeep!!! Been a jeepgirl for 20 years!


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