As it targets men, Ruffles is looking to "celebrate masculinity." And the guy leading the party in a new campaign will be "Ruff McThickridge," a Ron-Burgundy-meets-Burt Reynolds-meets-Clint Eastwood character starring in a TV ad breaking Monday that parodies 1970s action movies.
The effort represents a significant new investment in the Frito-Lay potato chip brand, which has begun targeting young men with new flavors and styles. The first TV spot plugs Ruffles Ultimate, a thicker chip that was introduced last year.
The campaign, by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, will include TV ads airing mostly on cable networks as well as digital buys featuring behind-the-scenes "chip clips" of Mr. McThickridge and his gang, which includes sidekick Bo Dato, the sexy Mora Crunchy and something called the "bomb-defusing sloth."
Mr. McThickridge "is way more Ron Burgundy than Clint Eastwood, but he really sees himself as Clint Eastwood," said Tony Matta, a Frito-Lay North America marketing VP who oversees the brand. The debut spot -- which seems to take some cues from "Smokey and the Bandit" -- promotes a recently released tangy honey mustard flavor.
The campaign was inspired by what Mr. Matta called the "rich territory" of 1970s-era cinema, including horror flicks, buddy-buddy cop movies, space films and spaghetti westerns. "There was just this rich 'over-the-top-ness' that we felt was not only creatively interesting, but is being glorified today," he said, pointing to the pending release of "Anchorman 2."
Of course, the campaign isn't entirely retro. Mr. McThickridge will enter the digital age with his own Facebook page and Twitter handle.