For Burger King's entrance into the "value menu" fray, CP+B, naturally wanted to go large with its opening 99-cent gambit. "Right away we thought about the name 99 as a great name for a rapper," says Ronny Northrop, the CP+B writer who teamed with art director Geordie Stephens on the spot. The 99 character would naturally be living high off the low-rider due to the cash surplus created by the value menu and the video/spot amply demonstrates the benefits of that lifestyle.
There was much discussion about who could pull off an iconic character like 99-someone who was instantly recognizable but fresh, says Winthrop. Leguizamo, who had been signed for spot directing five months ago by CFM, according to the production company's rep Louis Addesso Jr., had been fresh off his HBO boxing film Undefeated and had met with CPB's Andrew Keller and Alex Bogusky to discuss the project. The actor/writer/comedian was ably assisted on the "Blingo" project by rap clip stalwart Karsten "Crash" Gopinath, DP on many of the best videos in the genre, and Latino rap artist Pit Bull, who performed on the red carpet at this year's MTV VMAs and who is the real voice of 99. The CP+B creatives wrote the song with the spot's music producer, but "Pit Bull took it and ran with it," says Northrop. Will 99, and/or his theme song resurface in another spot and/or entertainment vehicle? If we have it our way he will.