When a brand can capture three generations of music in a relevant, humorous way that justifies the millions it just spent on a Super Bowl campaign, that’s as close as it can get to drawing a perfect pop-culture triangle.
Frito-Lay came into Super Bowl 57 teasing at rapper Jack Harlow’s presence in its ad, then added hip-hop icon Missy Elliott’s collaboration. In the 60-second spot slated for the game’s second quarter, Doritos ostensibly pitches its Sweet & Tangy BBQ flavor by having Harlow give up rap to play the triangle and embark on a cameo-laden musical odyssey.
Elliott implores him not to take up the farmhouse dinner bell as a calling. Sway Calloway and Heather B. Gardner praise his ingenuity on their radio show. To the earworm strains of Anita Ward’s 1979 disco smash “Ring My Bell,” Harlow himself gets caught up win a Vanilla Ice-style “ding ding ding” spiral before receiving the accolades of millions.
But when awards season arrives and Harlow appears to have cornered the triangle market, who appears to ring in the bad news and take his award? None other than triangle virtuoso and all-around renaissance man Elton John.
“When we look at talent, we look at a few things,” Stacy Taffet, Frito-Lay North America’s svp of brand marketing told Adweek. “We look at people that are authentic brand fans—and these three individuals are—we also look at people that embody the values and the spirit that we have in Doritos, which is both self expression, charting a new course, trying new things and going into new places. Jack, Missy and Sir Elton all have done that in their own way.”
Harlow’s appeal to Gen Z and his co-stars’ appeal to millennials and beyond certainly helped as well. Embedded in this spot was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo during Sway and Heather B.’s segment that featured a dance from #DoritosTriangleTryout TikTok challenge winner Angelita Yadao-Payad from Hawaii. The January contest marked a return to customer-solicited content from the brand that hosted fan-made “Crash the Super Bowl” video for roughly a decade and built its own Legion of Creators during that time. This contest alone resulted in more than 1 million submissions.
With VFX by The Mill – view the full credits
You can read the full story on Adweek. View our full Super Bowl 57 coverage here.