Pringles recently revealed that the mystery celebrity behind that mascot mustache in its teaser Super Bowl ad was comedic actor Chris Pratt, in a “Mr.P” ad that will run during the first quarter of the Super Bowl, and mark the brand’s seventh consecutive appearance in the game.
The brand also shared details about an ongoing “I See Mr. P” contest calling on fans to share their own sightings of the mascot in unexpected places, marking something of a full circle moment from the campaign’s inspiration based on such sightings.
We caught up with Pringles U.S. marketing lead Mauricio Jenkins for more details.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CPG Insider: What led to the approach for this year’s Super Bowl ad? How does it mark a continuation of how Pringles has approached previous campaigns?
Mauricio Jenkins: Distinctive brand assets are always at the center of the idea and execution. That is something that is important to us as we work with agencies and partners on the stories, and it’s the connecting thread throughout the years. It’s about identifying those ideas where we can build entertainment, fun, and connect strongly with the consumer.
For this year’s ad, we identified a fantastic opportunity by seeing a phenomenon online of people posting sightings of the “Mr.P” character. We were inspired by this, and were able to come up with a fantastic idea that turned into a fun story with the brand at its center.
CPG Insider: Which came first, the creative concept for the campaign or the decision to cast Chris Pratt in the role?
Jenkins: With the creative process, it’s never a linear approach. In this case, it all happened at once: identifying in the social spaces this phenomenon of people seeing “Mr.P” in unexpected places, we were already seeing fans comparing Chris Pratt to the character. Knowing that partnering with the right celebrity is an important element for a Super Bowl campaign, Chris was always at the center of it – because of the type of talent he is, and because he was already a big fan of the brand.
CPG Insider: What kind of engagement are you seeing so far from the “I See Mr. P” contest on social media?
Jenkins: It's been amazing to see all the different things people have been posting: relatives, pets, pieces of furniture, curtain rods and patterns. Now that we’ve given people that platform, we’re seeing so many showing up in very creative ways. One highlight is someone posted about a tray in their daughter’s stroller. I have one of those, but I never saw that!
At the same time, you have to be careful with user-generated content. Sometimes it doesn't feel organic, and people don't want to engage with it when it feels artificial. We’re careful about engaging user-generated content by following behavior that was happening already. We’re lucky that people connect with the brand in this way that allowed us to build an engaging approach that would be exciting for people to interact with.
CPG Insider: What is the appeal of the national broadcast Super Bowl ad for the brand over a regional buy and/or focus on digital and streaming channels?
Jenkins: That’s something we’re always discussing internally. Every time we analyze it, we always get better than average performance [with a broadcast Super Bowl buy] compared to the rest of the year. There’s a couple of reasons for that. At the end of the day, we’re salty snacks: this period of football playoffs and the Big Game is one of the most important periods for the category – that itself makes it a very important moment.
If you think about the moment of the Big Game, it transcends sports: it’s about culture and entertainment and there’s so much engagement and conversation happening in this moment. It’s a big opportunity for brands, but you only do that if you are able to continually come up with ideas that matter to people. As long as we have stories, ideas, and a great ad that is fun, enterating, and we know is going to connect with people, this remains a great opportunity.
A lot of what we’re seeing is not so much about the day of the game, but about the hype before on social media channels, working with influencers and celebrities to leverage their channels to drive conversation.