Lay's Made 8 'Groundhog Day' Ads For a Time Loop Takeover Across ABC

The work from Maximum Effort and Kimmelot represents a unique sponsorship deal with Disney Advertising

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ABC viewers might feel a powerful sense of déjà vu on Feb. 2, as Lay’s will replay eight interconnected commercials 75 times in one day as tribute to the classic film Groundhog Day.

The ads star Stephen Tobolowsky, who appeared as Ned the insurance salesman in the 1993 comedy about a weatherman forced to repeat the Feb. 2 holiday over and over again. In Frito-Lay’s campaign, he’s the one stuck in a time loop, where he buys a bag of chips and strikes up a conversation with a cashier who shares his enthusiasm for the brand.

The only variation in each version of the commercial is the chip flavor. Tobolowsky starts with buying classic Lay’s, but as he moves on to flavors such as barbecue or dill pickle, he begins to notice the cashier repeating herself.

He becomes increasingly perturbed by the fact that he seems to be stuck in a loop. The ads imitate aspects of the film as he completes the cashier’s sentences and gifts her a bag because he knows how much she likes them. The series takes a dark and bizarre turn when Tobolowsky confronts her about his situation.

The spots end with the tagline: “Flavors for days.”

Time loop takeover

The campaign is the fourth collaboration between Ryan Reynolds’ agency Maximum Effort and Jimmy Kimmel’s production company Kimmelot.

It is also part of a unique deal between Frito-Lay and Disney Advertising, as this is the first time Disney has offered an exclusive sponsorship opportunity featuring a brand suite across an entire day. 

The ads will air 75 times on Groundhog Day across ABC shows Good Morning America, GMA3, General Hospital, Shark Tank, 20/20 and Jimmy Kimmel Live. They will also surround the Groundhog Day movie marathon on AMC and be shown on streaming via Hulu. For the four weeks following Feb. 2, the campaign will continue across YouTube and Hulu.

The work came together in just two weeks, after Maximum Effort co-founder George Dewey texted PepsiCo Foods chief creative officer Chris Bellinger with the idea to “do something fun for Groundhog Day,” Bellinger wrote on LinkedIn. The timeline is unusual as TV inventory is often purchased months in advance from many different advertisers.

“Creativity is at the core of everything we do at Frito-Lay and that allows us to bring fun ideas to life over and over and over again,” Bellinger said in a statement. “We are excited to entertain our consumers with an unconventional series of custom spots that play on the theme of an iconic film and day.”

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