You might say Chris Pratt has been preparing for his next role for months.
On Sunday, Pratt debuts as “Mr. P,” the ubiquitous and mustachioed mascot who has long appeared on behalf of Pringles, the potato-chips-in-a-can that are made by Kellanova. The key? A thick mustache the actor says he grew during the recent Hollywood work stoppage that got him noticed by the executives behind Pringles.
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“I grew it out and shaved down the sides, and it curled up,” Pratt tells Variety in an interview. His spouse, Katharine Schwarzenegger, told him the mustache just might have legs. “That’s actually a good look for a character. Have you ever played a character with that type of mustache?” he says she asked him. “I kept it. I must have posted something on social media,” he says, which is how a broader set of observers noticed the look. Pringles soon came calling.
Pratt’s story is essentially the tale told by Pringles’ new Super Bowl ad, a 30-second spot, created with Grey New York, that is slated to air during the first quarter. Pratt’s mustache makes a convenience-store clerk think he looks a lot like the familiar Pringles mascot. A few social media posts later, Pratt is starring in a film all about “Mr. P.”
“There’s a lot going on” in the commercial, Pratt says. “We really love this sort of post-truth theme about living in a world where suddenly someone says, ‘OK, you are Mr. P,’ and that becomes a thing. We did a lot of ad-libs,” and fans who check out social media may see lots of other cuts and segments made as part of a broader publicity campaign.
The actor takes to the Super Bowl ad field amidst heady competition. Snacks and candy is one of the biggest ad categories in CBS’ Feb. 11 broadcast of the NFL’s giant annual event. Pringles will be vying for the attention of hungry fans along with Doritos, Nerds, Oikos, Lindt, Drumstick, Popeye’s and Uber Eats.
Kellanova executives say the Pringles commercial simply reflects consumer behavior. The company, releasing its first Super Bowl ad since separating from Kellogg Co. in October of last year is “celebrating how our fans have organically been spotting and sharing Mr. P in the wild for years,” says Lyndsay Rogers, vice president and general manager of Kellanova’s salty snacks business in the U.S., in a statement.
Pratt may face a bit of a family feud on Super Bowl Sunday. His father-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is starring in a different Super Bowl ad for State Farm. The two aren’t likely to be together on Super Bowl Sunday, Pratt says, but “I’ve seen ‘Pumping Iron.’ I don’t want to come out at all against Opa [the name his children call his father in law]….My kids will be able to see me and their Opa Arnold in a Big Game spot.”
This isn’t Pratt’s first time doing a Super Bowl commercial. He recalls taking part in a Carl’s Jr. ad built for the game, and he sees advertising as a way he can show off his comedy chops while staying close to home – something that’s more important to him “especially recently with more kids in my life.” His next project, taking on the lead voice in the soon-to-be-released animated “Garfield” movie, is also kid-friendly.
On Sunday, however, Pratt will be showing off his own furry face, not that of a famous feline.
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