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The actor is famously difficult to reach and doesn’t have an agent, publicist or manager for inquiries. For Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief marketing officer Olivier François, that posed a challenge when he was hit with the idea for a commercial mirroring Murray’s 1993 film, Groundhog Day, since this year’s big game fell on the Groundhog Day holiday.
“He doesn’t have a phone, doesn’t have an agent, doesn’t have an email,” François said in an interview with USA Today Sports. “He allegedly has an 800 number. You leave a message and maybe he’ll call you back.”
It was only “a few months ago” that François came up with Jeep’s reimagination of Groundhog Day for the 60-second spot that ultimately aired Sunday. After reaching out to Murray, he heard nothing for weeks. Luckily, François attended the same dinner party as Murray back in the day and now they have mutual friends.
“It’s a miracle, because obviously the guy has no manager. But he has friends,” François said. “He has no phone number, but his friends have phone numbers.”
Eventually, Murray called back and agreed to reprise his role as Phil in Groundhog Day. With the help of ad agency Highdive, Jeep was able to also recruit more original castmembers, including Murray’s brother Brian Doyle Murray, who played Buster in the movie. The commercial — which got Sony Pictures’ blessing — was filmed in Woodstock, Ill., where Groundhog Day was also filmed.
A company spokesperson said they didn’t finish shooting the ad until Jan. 26, a week before the Super Bowl. And because Jeep was so late, they were only able to purchase a “floating spot” from Fox, meaning they had no idea when the ad would air during the game.
Still, Françcois couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome, explaining to USA Today that he believes Murray is the human embodiment of the Jeep brand. “There’s just this sense of freedom in all he pursues,” François said. “He will do things on his own terms. He’s not going to do a commercial, or even a movie, if it is not what he deeply feels like doing. He’s adventurous. He’s original.”
François also added that this was Murray’s first-ever commercial: “He never did a commercial, never intended to do one. But he did this one, which is a miracle.”
Watch Jeep’s ad with Murray below.
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