Behind the scenes of the Jeep ‘Groundhog Day’ spot

Chicago-based Highdive Advertising reinvigorated an existential pop sensation through Groundhog Day, a commercial that became a classic before it even premiered during yesterday’s Super Bowl.

In a fast-forward recreation of the identically-named 1993 film, the 60-second spot stars Bill Murray as Phil Connors, a weatherman caught in a kink of the space-time continuum.

In scene after scene, the Groundhog Day commercial shows Murray, who also starred in the movie, reliving the same wintry holiday every day.

Although the scenario becomes an exercise in misery for Connors in the film, it transforms into a celebration with the help of a Jeep Gladiator that he drives during the commercial.

Besides topping USA TODAY’s Ad Meter, the effort represents Bill Murray’s first appearance in a commercial.


From the looks of a behind-the-scenes reel released by Jeep parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA), the commercial was as fun to make as it is to watch.

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A Windy City gem
Although the movie and the commercial are each set in the Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney, they were both actually shot in Woodstock, IL, just a few miles outside of Chicago. That is the first of many facts that make Groundhog Day a Windy City gem.

The shop that created Groundhog Day, Highdive Advertising, and the post-house that edited it, Cutters Studios, are both located in Chicago. The original film was directed by native Chicagoan and legendary Second City alum Harold Ramis, who co-wrote the script with Northwestern grad Danny Rubin. The voice of legendary host Steve Dahl can be heard exclaiming, “it’s Groundhog Day,” in the opening scene. Reel Chicago owner and publisher Barbara Roche helped cast the film.

And of course, Bill Murray and his brother Brian Doyle Murray, who also stars in the film and the commercial, are both from the Windy City.

New York-based O Positive handled production with Jim Jenkins directing.

Any advertiser’s dream
The Groundhog Day premiere on Super Bowl Sunday was preceded by a series of daily teasers that ran across digital and social media from Thursday through Saturday. Since then, it has topped a plethora of ad-meters and commercial reviews across the media landscape.

FCA’s Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois is among its biggest fans.

“In my wildest dreams, any advertiser’s dream, really, could you dare to believe that Bill Murray would agree to be in your Super Bowl commercial, and on top of that, ask him to relive his iconic role in Groundhog Day?,” he says. “How do you even have that make sense and not be forced? Magic first happened when I had the incredible luck to meet Bill in person a few years ago, and I knew then that he was perfect for Jeep. Because like Jeep, Bill is a free spirit, he intentionally seeks out ways to find adventure and live an extraordinary life.”

Production Company: O Positive
Director: Jim Jenkins
Post Production: Cutters
Editor: Grant Güstafson
Assistant Editors: David Rubin and Jackie Cohen
Cutters EP: Heather Richardson
Audio Mixer: Peter Erazmus
Audio Assistant: Logan Vines
AC Producer: Louise Rider
AC EP: Tim Konn
On-Set Assistance: Jack White