Original Songs by Jeremy Renner Pack a Prodigious Punch in New Campaign for Jeep

FCA's CMO calls collaboration 'serendipitous'

Some swagger from Jeremy Renner. Jeep / FCA
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

Marvel fans recognize him as Hawkeye from the Avengers blockbuster franchise, but diehard followers know that Jeremy Renner has a not-so-hidden talent as a singer. He’s serenaded more than a few late-night talk show hosts and audiences, often with parody songs of his action movie exploits, while tickling the ivories.

Renner, who has been teasing his latest rock-tinged venture on social media lately, will lend his voice to a new Jeep campaign debuting Wednesday. Three of his original songs will serve as backdrops for television commercials, and he stars in each of the spots, along with a 60-second mini-music video launching on Jeep’s YouTube channel.

Renner is no stranger to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), having anchored a long-form digital video for Jeep sibling Ram Truck (“Make sure of it”) in the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl. He also narrated Ram’s “Lead or be led” campaign that broke in February.

Partnering with the actor and singer-songwriter again made sense because Jeep “defies labels, and the same can be said about Jeremy Renner,” according to Olivier Francois, FCA’s CMO, who announced the campaign at a press event Wednesday morning at Renner’s leafy, modern home tucked into the Hollywood Hills.

“I’m not sure if I’m speaking about Jeremy or Jeep when I say things like cool, rugged, immensely capable, iconic, famous, doesn’t need any introduction,” he said. “Both of them can still surprise you.”

The project, which also includes a documentary of Renner’s musical journey, came together within about a month, with Francois saying he was not looking for a traditional celebrity endorsement.

“I doubt Jeremy would’ve done a regular car commercial, but that’s not what I wanted anyway,” said Francois, who had recently listened to and immediately connected with Renner’s original songs and found the link to Jeep to be “somewhat miraculous” and “totally serendipitous.”

Jeep, focused on its “adventure, Americana, authentic” positioning, has leaned into popular music for years, notably with X Ambassadors and OneRepublic. Francois said he had a mashup of Queen and Imagine Dragons in mind for the annual “Summer of Jeep” campaign and its “massive” ad spend.

“I was not going to slap the latest radio hit on my commercial,” he said. “That’s like borrowing someone else’s identity.”

Renner, who gave tours of the home recording studio that sits poolside in his sprawling yard, said his match with Jeep was “congruent—circles overlapped,” he said, calling the process “quick, amazing and chaotic” and that “It just made sense.”

The work comes from Chicago-based HighDive and director Jeff Tomsic (Tag, Spy Guys), who said he prepped and shot all the content in just over a week. Locations included the Antelope Valley on L.A.’s desert outskirts, Malibu canyons and Hollywood nightclubs.

Each spot, “Party,” “Diner” and “Ride Swap,” aims to align the DNA of Jeep and Renner, who apparently prefers an out-of-the-way roadhouse to a swanky Hollywood cocktail party. (He’s a jeans and T, rather than black tie, guy, showcasing what Billboard has called “something almost country Western in his swing.”)

“We’re trying to reach our consumer, especially millennials, through emotion and feeling, not just features and a slogan,” said Francois, who handed Renner the keys to a new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (with the much ballyhooed 707 horsepower) during the press conference. “A good story well told sells better than that.”

The songs, “Main Attraction,” “Nomad” and “Sign,” follow Renner’s release in June of a tune called “Heaven Don’t Have a Name.” It’s a remix of a song he initially recorded last year with Sam Feldt, with Billboard praising his “serious set of pipes.”

If Francois has his way, the deal will extend beyond the current campaign. “If I’d had the budget to do 10 commercials, I would’ve used 10 of his songs,” he said. “This is probably the first season of the story.”

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@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.