Jeep to resume use of Bruce Springsteen Super Bowl ad

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Jeep once again will promote its Super Bowl LV ad featuring Bruce Springsteen on its YouTube channel and website after prosecutors dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges against the singer-songwriter.

"As we stated previously, we paused the commercial until the facts were established," a Jeep representative said in a statement. "Now that the matter has been resolved, we are unpausing the film."

Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen stars in Jeep's Super Bowl LV ad called "The Middle" about finding common ground.

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Springsteen was arrested in November at New Jersey's Gateway National Recreation Area, also known as Sandy Hook. A park officer wrote in a statement he witnessed the rocker take a shot of tequila and hop onto a motorcycle, but the government on Wednesday admitted Springsteen's blood-alcohol level was so low that it did not warrant the charges.

Springsteen, who lives about 12 miles from the peninsula park overlooking New York City in Colts Neck, pleaded guilty to a third charge: consuming alcohol in a closed area.

Springsteen was heavily involved in the creation of the two-minute Jeep commercial called "The Middle" that ran in the second half of the Feb. 7 NFL title game; the spot was the first to hit airwaves since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French rival Groupe PSA merged to create Stellantis NV. It was slated to run on television only the one time.

The ad, which received criticism and praise, called on Americans to come together following a year of political tensions around the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential election, racial tensions and other issues.

"Its message of community and unity is as relevant as ever," Jeep said of the ad on Jan. 12 in a statement when it pulled it from the airwaves and its social media channels. "As is the message that drinking and driving can never be condoned.”

Springsteen on Wednesday sat next to lawyer Mitchell Ansell and admitted he was aware it was illegal to consume alcohol at the park while facing a judge and more than 100 onlookers in a video conference.

“I had two small shots of tequila,” Springsteen said in response to questions from an assistant U.S. attorney.

U.S. Magistrate Anthony Mautone fined Springsteen $500 for the offense, plus $40 in court fees.

“I think I can pay that immediately, your honor," Springsteen told Mautone.

According to a probable cause document written by park police, Springsteen told a park officer he had done two shots in the previous 20 minutes but wouldn’t take a preliminary breath test before he was arrested.

When he took a breath test at the park's ranger station, his blood-alcohol came back .02, a quarter of the legal limit in New Jersey.

The officer wrote that the rocker “smelt strongly of alcohol” Nov. 14 and “had glassy eyes” and that there was a bottle of Patron tequila that was “completely empty.”

The report described Springsteen as “visibly swaying back and forth” during a field sobriety test and said he declined to provide a sample on an initial breath test.

Springsteen in the past has been reluctant to appear in commercials, though he recently did so for President Joe Biden's campaign. Springsteen last month also performed as part of Biden’s inauguration, singing “Land of Hope and Dreams” in front of the Lincoln Memorial. On Monday, he launched with former President Barack Obama the "Renegades: Born in the USA" podcast on Spotify.

It took 10 years for Olivier Francois, global chief marketing officer for Jeep parent Stellantis, to convince The Boss to appear in an ad for the automaker after meeting his manager, Jon Landau. He came aboard after Francois shared the script for the spot featuring a chapel in Lebanon, Kansas, that marks the geographic middle of the continental United States.

“We need the middle,” Springsteen says in the ad. “We just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground.”

The Stellantis marketing team has built a reputation for its Super Bowl spots. Last year's "Groundhog Day" homage to the 1993 comedy featuring actor Bill Murray topped USA Today's Ad Meter based on public sentiment and received an Emmy nomination.

Earlier this week, Jeep faced criticism this week as the Cherokee Nation's principal chief publicly requested the automaker remove the tribe's name from its popular line of vehicles.

The Associated Press and Detroit News Staff Writer Breana Noble contributed.