Jeep has taken down the online version of its two-minute Super Bowl ad with Bruce Springsteen after news emerged Wednesday that the rock icon was arrested last fall on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, abruptly upending a multimillion-dollar campaign that was years in the making.
The ad, a plea for unity called “The Middle,” had been viewed more than 37 million times before Jeep removed it from the brand’s YouTube channel. It’s no longer available on the USA Today Ad Meter website, where it had the No. 12 ranking out of 57 commercials from Super Bowl LV.
“The Middle” was scheduled to air only once on TV, during the game, according to a person familiar with the matter. In previous years, Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ran condensed versions of its Super Bowl ads on TV afterward.
The ad, in which Springsteen gets behind the wheel of his own 1980 Jeep CJ-5, directs viewers to a special website called “The Road Ahead,” but the site does not include any Springsteen imagery.
Asked if Jeep knew about the DWI before the ad shoot, a spokesperson issued the following statement: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate. But it’s also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established. Its message of community and unity is as relevant as ever. As is the message that drinking and driving can never be condoned.”