Frito-Lay Kicks Off NFL Season With Some Christmas Joy

An ad featuring several players in pajamas is meant to capture the night-before anticipation

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, along with bags of Tostitos, Doritos, Cheetos and Lays, all make appearances. Courtesy of Frito-Lays
Headshot of Paul Hiebert


Key Insights:

With the new NFL season scheduled to kick off next week following a canceled preseason, Frito-Lay is summoning the fun and excitement that accompany Christmas morning to help restore a sense of normalcy during a tumultuous year.

On opening night, when defending Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs face off against the Houston Texans on Sept. 10 on NBC, the snack brand will debut a 60-second spot featuring a revision of the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, narrated by former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

The ad, made by Frito-Lay’s internal creative agency and directed by Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights, showcases several players in pajamas, such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, along with the history-making offensive assistant coach of the San Francisco 49ers Katie Sowers. Bags of Frito-Lay’s Tostitos, Doritos, Cheetos and Lays also make appearances.


“As we were thinking about what emotions everyone’s going through in this return of the season—players, coaches, fans—it’s really about anticipation. It’s like Christmas morning is coming,” said Marissa Solis, svp of core brands, partnerships and media at Frito-Lay North America, on the thinking behind the ad.

Digital variations of the commercial will appear throughout the season on Frito-Lay’s various social channels.

Last November, Frito-Lay ran a similar holiday-inspired ad with actress Anna Kendrick singing a snack-centric rendition of The Sound of Music’s My Favorite Things. The spot was also created by Frito-Lay’s internal team.

Frito-Lay isn’t alone in skipping ahead to the winter holiday season for marketing purposes this year. In July, Burger King transformed one of its restaurants into a festive Yuletide refuge from 2020, decked out in wreaths, lights and snowflake ornaments. Employees wore Santa hats. The following month, Popeyes conducted a mock 2021 New Year’s Ball Drop in Times Square to promote its chicken sandwich.

With a limited number of fans allowed to attend NFL games this season, Frito-Lay’s Tostitos brand is also trying to bring a taste of the live experience to living rooms across the country.

Tostitos, which has been the league’s official chip and dip since 2015, is rolling out novelty chip bags that, thanks to embedded motion sensors, emit stadium chants and cheers when opened and poured. The product comes in 10 different team designs with corresponding sounds, and will be distributed through a giveaway on Twitter.

While parent company PepsiCo’s beverage division has suffered during the pandemic due to closed stadiums, restaurants and movie theaters, its food and snacks business has performed well, as more people have relied on grocery stores for their meals. Revenue for the company’s Frito-Lay North America segment increased 7% to $4.27 billion for the quarter ending June 13.


@hiebertpaul paul.hiebert@adweek.com Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.