Fiat Chrysler is recreating the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray for a Super Bowl ad for the Jeep Gladiator pickup.
The 60-second commercial, which the automaker released Sunday morning, features the acclaimed actor reprising his role as Phil Connors and reliving the same day over and over again as he did in the movie. At first, he is taken back by the deja vu, until he takes the Gladiator as his getaway vehicle instead of a classic Chevrolet C-10 pickup that was featured in the film.
Murray and a groundhog he steals happily take the vehicle on different adventures each day – from biking and snow drifting to playing whack-a-mole.
"No day is the same in a Jeep Gladiator," reads the ad, a play on the movie's original poster that said, "He's having the day of his life … over and over again."
Fiat Chrysler Chief Marketing Office Olivier Francois said he first tried contacting Murray in October after realizing the Super Bowl 2020 and Groundhog day were on the same day for the first time in 54 years. Getting Murray to sign on was crucial to the ad, he said.
"What is incredible here is that obviously we got Bill Murray to say yes to do it. This is totally a miracle," he told CNBC. "It's the same kind of miracle having Super Bowl Sunday falling on Groundhog Day."
To keep the ad as authentic as possible, it was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, where the movie was filmed. It features the same locations as the movie as well as appearances by Murray's brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, who played the city of Punxsutawney's mayor, and Stephen Tobolowsky as "Needlenose Ned" Ryerson. The ad also was released at 6 a.m., when Murray woke up each day in the movie.
Much of the ad, according to Francois, was unscripted. It was Murray, known for his improv and impulsiveness, doing what he wanted. Murray's personality is exactly why Francois said he wanted him for a commercial for Jeep.
"He is just a free spirit. He will just do what he wants to do just in the moment. He will be adventurous," Francois said. "It's in perfect alignment with Jeep's DNA. And like Jeep, he is a global American cultural icon."
Fiat Chrysler declined to say how much the ad cost, including the fee for Murray, who is not known for appearing in ads.
Francois is well-known for casting unique actors in unconventional commercials. Most notably, he convinced Detroit rapper Eminem to star in an ad for the Chrysler 200 sedan in 2011. Since then, other ads for the automaker have featured actor Clint Eastwood and musician Bob Dylan as well as voiceovers by Oprah Winfrey and deceased legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey.
The Jeep ad was created in partnership with Chicago-based agency Highdive.