Jeep aired one of the more evocative commercials of Super Bowl 50 during the halftime break—a lovely 60-second spot called "Portraits" that stitched together striking photographs of famous and ordinary people who have a connection to the Fiat Chrysler brand and helped shape its history.
The ad, by iris New York, uses over 60 curated images from around the world. Most notable, of course, are the celebrities. So, did all the famous faces in the spot really love Jeep?
Adweek reached out to Jeep and got the backstories of some of the more well-known celebrities in the spot—among them, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, B.B. King and Bobby Jones. And most of them are real and interesting. (A few, though, aren't as compelling—for example, Amelia Earhart, whom Jeep told us simply "shared a spirit of freedom and adventure" with the brand.
Check out some of the cooler stories below.
• Steve McQueen
The star of the iconic '60s movie Bullitt also had a thing for off-road vehicles, including one called the "Universal Jeep." The Jeep, which was built by the old Con-Ferr company, is distinguished by unique features, such as a double set of rear leaf springs, two spare tires and a chrome roll bar. It's thought that it was eventually sold to Sonny Bono, but its current whereabouts are a mystery.
• Marilyn Monroe
In February 1954, Monroe was on her honeymoon with Joe Dimaggio in Japan. While he stayed in Japan, she added on a trip to Korea to entertain the troops stationed there after the Korean War. Over four days, she performed in 10 shows, taking Jeep vehicles to different locations. She ultimately performed for more than 100,000 soldiers and marines. Later, Marilyn would describe her Korea trip as "the best thing that ever happened to me."
• George Speaker
Speaker was a Jeep driver during World War II, serving in the Rome-Arno, North Appennies and Po Valley Campaigns delivering dispatches. It was a dangerous assignment, but Speaker was never wounded. He asked for his Jeep to be included in this photo that was sent to his then-fiancee, Louis Tolbert.
At the end of the war, Speaker ran into German troops who surrendered to his group and his Jeep. Discovering that one of the German soldiers had actually been an American student who had gone home to visit his family and was forced into the war, Speaker invited him to ride back to the camp with him in his Jeep.
Speaker was discharged in 1945 and passed away in 2008. Louise is still living. They were married for 63 years.
• BB King
King did a cover of the famous Duke Ellington song "Jeep's Blues."
• Bobby Jones
During World War II, the famous golfer served as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces. His superiors wanted him to play exhibition golf in the U.S., but Jones insisted on serving overseas. In 1943, he was promoted to major and trained as an intelligence officer, serving in England with the 84th Fighter Wing, which was part of the Ninth Air Force. While in England, he made the acquaintance of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Landing in Normandy on June 7, 1944, Jones spent two months with a front line division as a prisoner of war interrogator, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. There are iconic photos of Jones arriving for active duty with the Air Force in a Jeep.
• Jeff Goldblum
The iconic T-Rex scene in Jurassic Park depicted Jeff Goldblum and team in their Jeep being chased by the angry dinosaur. This scene included Goldblum's memorable "Must go faster" quote.
• The Terminator
In the epic film of man vs. machine, the last shot of the movie show Sarah Conner driving off into the sunset in her Jeep Renegade CJ-5.
Client: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – Jeep
CEO: Sergio Marchionne
CMO: Olivier Francois
Director of FCA U.S. Brand Advertising: Marissa Hunter
Head of Jeep Advertising: Kim House
Jeep Advertising Manager: Nicole Pesale
Agency: iris New York
Global Creative Director: Sean Reynolds
Associate Creative Director & Art direction: Marcus Liwag
Executive Creative Director: Lisa Bright
Copywriter: Winston Noel
Designers: Nicole Monzon & David Penn
Head of Planning: Dipti Bramhandkar
Account Manager: Allison Benoit
Executive Producer: Guy Quinlan
Editor: Brian Sandford (The Cutting Room)
Music: Kristin Dyrud, Jim Cox (Hum Music)
Production Credits: The Cutting Room, Light of Day New York, Nice Shoes New York, Hum Music LA, Catch&Release
Editorial: Cutting Room New York
Brian Sanford: Editor
Merritt Duff: Editor
Walter Bianco: Mix
Melissa Lubin: Executive Producer, Producer
Susan Willis: Managing Partner, Producer
Postproduction: Light of Day New York
Colin Stackpole: Creative Director/Flame
Dan Bowhers: Flame
Mike Wharton: 3D
Matt Esolda: GFX
Peter DeAndrea: Online
Jacob Robinson: Assistant
Telecine: Nice Shoes New York
Lez Rudge : Colorist
Color Grading Producer: Ed Rilli
Color Grading Assistant: Andrew Pandolfino
Music House: Hum Music Los Angeles
Track Title: Aerial
Composer: Kristin Dyrud
Performed by: Jim Cox
Creative Director: Scott Glenn
Executive Producer: Debbi Landon
ECD: Jeff Koz
Creative Research, Clearances, & Licensing services provided by Catch&Release
VO Casting: House Casting New York
Neil Myer: Executive Director
Mary Egan-Callaghan: Casting Director
Rebecca Yarsin: Casting Director