Bill Murray returns in ad for Jeep—because every day feels the same now

April 13, 2020

Groundhog Day in April?  At a time in America when every day feels the same, the idea of Bill Murray hearing Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You Babe” on a clock radio morning after morning sounds about right,

It’s hard to believe it’s only been about two months since Murray reprised his role as Phil Connors from the 1993 box office hit, “Groundhog Day” to appear in a Jeep Gladiator ad that aired during this year’s Super Bowl, the Detroit Free Press reports.

But two months and a global COVID-19 pandemic can make a big difference, and the message this time from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and its Jeep brand isn’t about tackling the outside in a new Gladiator; it’s about staying home. In fact, Jeep, with a return of Murray’s famous character, is using the hashtag, #StayOffTheRoad, to make the point.

A series of spots being rolled out on Fiat Chrysler’s social media channels will emphasize timely, hopeful themes, everything from the strength of first responders to that simple message to stay home, tailored to the differences in the automaker’s Fiat, Dodge, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Ram and Jeep brands.

Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois told the Free Press that it might be counterintuitive “to approach the theme of this public health tragedy with a smile, but in this case, if the smile is tasteful and smart, I think it’s totally OK.” 

Seeing Phil Connors, cursed (or blessed in the end), to relive the same day over and over is the definition of comic relief that people might crave now, he said.

For the company’s marketing team, branding needs to be relevant, especially on social media, and clearly what’s relevant today is staying home and staying healthy.

“How do you say, ‘Stay home’ in a branded manner?” Francois said.

So a hashtag about staying off the road was created.

“That’s a Jeep way to call people to this action,” Francois said.

The messages take their own form for the other brands. Fiat, for instance, sends a message “con amore (with love)” from “Little Italy” to big Italy, one of the countries most affected by the outbreak, using the voice of director Francis Ford Coppola, and reminding Italians that they have survived tough times before.

In a reflection of how the coronavirus outbreak changes even how marketing campaigns are made, Francois noted that he used some of his own pictures from his iPhone, such as one of the famed Milan Cathedral (the Duomo di Milano), for the spot.

Research contact: @freep

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