John Cena Is Not an Elephant, but Now He’s Playing One on TV for Wonderful Pistachios

Voices 'Ernie' in new campaign

Hey, that elephant sounds awfully familiar!

WWE superstar and commercial pitchman extraordinaire John Cena, named to Adweek's Creative 100 this year, voices Ernie, an animated mascot debuting today in a new campaign for Wonderful Pistachios.

Now, elephants are famed for their peanut propensity, but this particular pachyderm prefers pistachios to other, presumably less-healthy snacks. Dude can't even be swayed by a vendor at a baseball game:

Cena was tapped for the voice work after Lynda Resnick, co-owner of The Wonderful Co., saw him on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Colbert himself hawked the product a few years back, memorably cracking wise for the brand on the Super Bowl.

Ultimately, Ernie will trumpet Wonderful's praises in 10 spots airing on major TV platforms like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. As long as he doesn't get stuck in an elevator, that is:

Yeah, nothing says "healthy snack choice" like a pitch beast with saggy gray skin and a ton of junk in the truck.

Cena watched rough cuts of the ads featuring a human Ernie stand-in while recording his lines, and "a photo rendering of Ernie was in the recording booth with John, so he could draw inspiration from the character," says Michael Perdigao, president of the client's in-house Wonderful Agency, which created the campaign. "He was riffing in the studio and had a lot of fun ad-libbing. In fact, a few of his ad-libs ended up in some of the spots."

Although he isn't identified onscreen, "we believe that many people will recognize Cena's voice," Perdigao says. "Even if consumers don't make the connection, that's OK. John brought Ernie to life, and we could not be more pleased with his performance."

But wait, there's more. (As if Elephant Cena wasn't a mammoth enough development.) Star NFL cornerback Richard Sherman will join Ernie in a couple of spots that break next month, and also star in online videos focusing on nutrition.

Sherman will appear as himself, which is kind of a shame, because a turn as Surly Seahawk would've been pretty sweet.

CREDITS
Client: Wonderful Pistachios

Agency: Wonderful Agency (in-house)
President: Michael Perdigao
Chief Creative Officer: Steve Krauss
Creative Director, Copywriter: Shawn Preston
Associate Creative Directors, Copywriters: Alan Snider, Shawn Gauthier
Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Dave Hermanas
Senior Art Director: Colin Jahn
Art Director: Alex Harman
Copywriter: Jason Savage
Head of Broadcast Production: Anne Kurtzman
Digital Producer: Matthew Conrad

Production Company: Hungry Man
Executive Producer: Mino Jarjoura
Executive Producer, Director of Sales: Dan Duffy
Producer: Dave Bernstein

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Christjan Jordan
Assistant Editor: Pieter Viljoen
Executive Producer: Helena Lee
Producer: Dani DuHadway

Visual Effects: MPC
Creative Director, Visual Effects Supervisor: Paul O'Shea
Executive Producer: Karen Anderson
Senior Producer: Jamie Loudon
Computer Graphics Supervisor: Ryan McDougal
Visual Effects Supervisor: Benji Davidson
Colorist: Ricky Gausis

Music, Sound Design: Beacon Street Studios