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When Even the Boss Jumps the Shark, you Know Rock and Roll is Dead

The Influencers 95 Add to collection

Tom Bedwell, managing director at Above+Beyond reflects on Bruce Springsteen's appearance and disappearance in Jeep's 2021 Super Bowl ad

When Even the Boss Jumps the Shark, you Know Rock and Roll is Dead

When sprightly septuagenarian Bruce Springsteen rocked up at this year’s Super Bowl in an ad for Jeep, it wasn’t just noteworthy for its rally cry for unity in the fractured States of America.

Or indeed the subsequent removal of the ad from YouTube based on his later-revealed conviction for drink driving. Oops. 

Nope, it was perhaps more noteworthy for putting to bed the notion of a rockstar ‘selling out’ once and for all. 

The ad was designed as a call for common ground and political centrism, featuring wide-shot vistas of the American countryside, and focussed on a chapel in Lebanon, Kansas, that purportedly sits in the geographical centre of the United States. Unfortunately, three days after it became one of the most buzzed-about Super Bowl commercials, the automotive company pulled the spot after it was revealed that Springsteen had been arrested for driving while under the influence.

During a career that has spanned five decades, Springsteen has become known for his poetic, socially conscious lyrics, having been given the nickname 'The Boss'. And, more than half-a-century into the star’s venerable career, this was both his first-ever product endorsement and his first-ever commercial.

Whilst punk rock integrity has already had a shaky few years with Iggy Pop prancing about topless to flog car insurance and beach holidays, this one felt like a generation’s last bastion finally toppling. Proof, lest any were needed that music is a commercial enterprise more so now than ever. 

This is not news to a millennial generation of musical talent used to selling their wares in entrepreneurial ways following the total upending of the musical industry caused by the rise of digital streaming, however. Because, when album and single sales are no longer the primary source of an artist’s revenue, there’s a veritable Pandora’s box of opportunity out there. 

With ever more empowered, on-demand and hyper-connected audiences, it truly is the survival of the most commercially astute. Setting aside any reservations to taking the corporate dollar, the savvy know about monetising their music and brand with pride to reach their fans in new ways. 

See Travis Scott x Nike.

See Travis Scott x Fortnite.

See Travis Scott x McDonald’s.

See Travis Scott x Nerf.

See Travis Scott x Hot Wheels.

See Travis Scott x Reese’s Puffs… 

These are just his brand partnerships in the last couple of years. Phew. 

This presents significant opportunity for brands struggling to reach elusive audiences. 

Unlocking credible and reciprocal partnerships with musicians and bringing meaningful value to enhance a fan’s experience can pay back dividends. 

Just ask McDonald’s, which saw supply chain issues and shortages of Quarter Pounders, fuelled by the popularity of the Travis Scott Meal. 

And ask Jeep. Oh, wait…. 

So, it’s official, Rock and Roll is dead. Welcome to the age of selling out. But remember; you’re defined by the company you keep.

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Above+Beyond, Fri, 19 Feb 2021 11:45:07 GMT