2nd February this year was not just the start of the Super Bowl. It was also Groundhog Day. And, Jeep to bring together the celebrations of both in the form of a commercial starring Bill Murray.
Yes, Bill Murray, the star of the 1993 hit movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ who hated the movie so much that he stopped talking to Harold Ramis, the director, for twenty years! While Murray might not have loved the movie; the audience sure did, as the movie is routinely revisited by movie-buffs till today. And, the response to the ad is surely a testimony to the popularity the movie enjoys till today.
So, here’s taking a look at what led to the whole controversy, the visuals of the ad. And how Olivier Francois got the actor to give the nod. Let’s get started!
The controversy surrounding the movie
Groundhog Day was not the first time Bill Murray was working with the director and writer, Harold Ramis. They had worked together in four other hit comedies before, such as Caddyshack and Stripes and Ghostbusters. Groundhog Day was, in fact, a huge hit of its times. Made on a budget of $15 million, it earned over $70 million in the USA alone.
There were plenty of incidents that had gone down while filming the movie. The groundhog had apparently bitten Murray three times, which made the actor get anti-rabies injections. During the snowball fight with Murray and the kids, the director had instructed to throw snowballs too hard at the actor. This was also not appreciated by the actor.
However, the fundamental reason for the discord was none of this. Ramis wanted the movie to be funny and humorous; while Murray was keener on the idea that the movie needs to be philosophical. It is clear from the movie about who got his way, and eventually, Murray caught all ties with his director for twenty years.
Ramis and Bill Murray
Ramis had other complaints with the actor. At the time of filming this movie, Bill Murray was going through some tough times in his personal life, with Margaret Kelly, his first wife. It was getting more and more difficult to work with him on the set. He came late to the set every day and was just plain mean and rude to everyone on the set. Ramis was known to have said that working with Murray was like being with a child who throws tantrums to get his way, instead of saying what he wants.
The co-workers and friends of the actor have also mentioned that Murray was not too thrilled about the idea that some of the biggest hits of his career had the name of Ramis written all over it.
A funny trip down the nostalgia road
Murray essayed the character of the protagonist, Phil Connors, in the original movie. Phil gets cursed on the Groundhog Day, and has to relive the worst day of his entire life, for ten thousand years! Phil gradually sees the error of his ways and turns a much better man.
The ad is a nostalgia-filled, funny spin of this classic film. The character of Phil Connors is against stuck in a time loop in the ad, and he has to live the same day time and again. Apart from Bill Murray, a few other memorable characters from the film are also featured in the ad. For instance, it starts with the guest appearance of Stephen Tobolowsky, who played Ned Ryerson, the annoying childhood friend of Phil.
As Murray points outright at the start, instead of the actual car, there is now a Jeep Gladiator waiting to take him on a ride. He takes the car on a ride through multiple adventures, with a groundhog sitting right beside him in the car! It’s full of humor and self-deprecating jokes, which will definitely bring a smile to your face. The actor shines with his comedic timing and his impeccable screen presence.
The message in the ad is that every day might be the same for Phil, but with the Gladiator, every ride is different but equally amazing. Kudos to Jeep for keeping the message subtle and letting the humor behind the ad shine.
Getting the actor to agree to the ad
As mentioned earlier, Bill Murray is not the biggest fan of Groundhog Day himself. But, that is not the reason why Olivier Francois, the chief marketing officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, had troubles in getting hold of the actor.
Murray is actually very difficult to get in touch with because he does not have any representatives or agents. Or even a phone and an email! Francois just knew he had to do something to get this Super Bowl ad idea off the ground. And, he couldn’t sit and wait for Murray to call him back after leaving a message on his 800 number.
So, Francois sought help from their mutual friends in pitching the idea to Bill. Both of them were apparently at the same party once, according to him. Jeep was in luck because Murray agreed to do the ad. However, Bill Murray made it pretty clear that though he was glad to do his first commercial with Jeep, this is also the last commercial he will ever appear in. Well, isn’t that a bummer!
The reception of the advertisement
It is no surprise that people are going gaga over the ad! They simply love it (and what’s not to love!). In fact, the ad gathered over twenty million views in just a day after it came out. The old fans of the movie have turned to their social media platforms to talk about the ad, and sure enough, the movie will also get some new fans as the ad makes them watch it for the first time. Do tell us what do you think about this advertisement? We are waiting for your comments.
And, here’s hoping that maybe the actor will be able to forgive and forget some of the grievances that he held against this cult-classic movie.