James teamed up with PepsiCo earlier this year in an ad launching its Mtn Dew Rise Energy drink. That spot had James pondering an alternate reality as a lackadaisical salsa instructor; he plays more to character in the Ruffles spot, providing a voiceover as photos from his childhood, interspersed with scenes that reveal story arcs of a recent convict; a blind skateboarder; a single father; and a female barber play out. (PepsiCo in November had to strip "Rise" from the Mtn Dew drink's name after a legal dispute.)
“Own what makes you, you, and show the world what you can do,” James advises. Set to Kendrick Lamar’s single, “D.N.A,” the mission of the ad, officials said, is to inspire the next generation to embrace life’s obstacles—because each person’s journey to achieving their goals is what makes their story unique. Ruffles and the PepsiCo Foundation said they would be making a multi-year donation to the LBJ Family Foundation, which works to uplift communities through education.
Stacy Taffet, VP of marketing for Frito-Lay North America, in a statement emailed to Ad Age said the Ruffles campaign gave the company a chance to explore a side of James that its previous work with him had not.
“LeBron is a global icon not only because of his incredible basketball career, but also because of his other initiatives in business, entertainment, and philanthropy. He is the superstar he is today because of all these different sides to him, which is why he is the perfect partner for a company like PepsiCo with brands that have different stories to tell,” Taffet said, adding: “Traditionally, we’ve seen and celebrated LeBron’s successes, but haven’t peeled the layers into the journey it took to get there.”
James, a star on the Los Angeles Lakers, in addition to his work with PepsiCo collaborated this year with Calm, the meditation app; the upcoming electric Hummer; Lobos 1707 tequila; Tonal, the high-end wall-mounted gym; and Walmart, was named to Ad Age’s Marketers of the Year list.
Lay’s takes its shot
Meanwhile, Ruffles’ smooth-sided sister brand Lay’s this month launched a limited-edition vodka brand in partnership with the craft distillery Eastside Distilling. The 80-proof Lay’s Vodka sold out online in a matter of hours at $40 for a 750-mL bottle. Officials described the drink as a blend of Portland Potato Vodka and Lay’s own proprietary potatoes.