Frito-Lay snags Rick Astley for an ad—and he's never gonna give up snacks
Rick Astley is about to Rickroll himself in the name of snacks.
The singer, whose hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” has launched countless memes, just shot a Frito-Lay campaign that will appear in the U.S. in early January.
Shot in mid-December, Astley did his work in front of a green screen in North London, while others working on the project were in the U.S.
Astley’s role—seemingly one only he could play—is to suggest that viewers never have to give up snacks such as Smartfood popcorn, SunChips, Off the Eaten Path veggie crisps, and the Baked and Simply versions of pantry mainstays such as Cheetos, Doritos and Lay’s. The “New Year New You” ad featuring Astley is set to debut on Jan. 4, just as people who have maybe consumed a few too many chips this year look to be a wee bit healthier in 2021. It’s the first national campaign for the better-for-you snacks. The Marketing Arm is the lead creative agency on the project.
"I like to snack," Astley told Ad Age. He favors salt and vinegar and plain potato chips, or crisps, as they're known in the U.K. "Believe me, crisps have been a big thing in my life."
Astley is best known for his 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The song was a chart-topper then, and became an internet sensation 20 years later, as people began using it to “Rickroll” others, sending them a link to something, but then having the link take them to a link to that video.
And yes, Astley has been Rickrolled. He has been brought to "floods of tears," he says, "laughing, not crying," watching some of the things people have done with his massive hit. He even Rickrolled America in 2008 when he popped up on a float during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. "That was bonkers," he recalls.
More recently, he posted a 1989 photo of himself on Reddit, which became the most upvoted post on the site this year. And last month, he danced to the song on TikTok, where his video soon notched more than 21 million views.
Astley jams with two friends, playing drums and singing. "We have a closet, midlife-crisis rock band," he says. They play charity events, covering everything from the Sex Pistols to the Foo Fighters. "In an alternate universe that's what I would have been, I think, is a drummer in a little punk band," Astley says.
Astley, 54, has spent much of 2020 at home, after having to put his tour on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. He spoke with Ad Age while taking a break from filming the spot, and discusses social media, his new Christmas song, who he'd like to perform with, and more.
Audio and video production by Max Sternlicht