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Two-time Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins, in a career spanning six decades, has taken on Shakespearean adaptations, superhero franchises, period flicks and crime thrillers, famously bringing Hannibal Lecter to life.
For his latest project, he’s getting under the skin of a different beast, starring as the crimson-red mascot for soccer club Wrexham AFC in a STōK Cold Brew ad airing regionally and via streaming during Super Bowl 58.
In the documentary-style spot, released Friday, Hopkins psyches himself up for his new role, running lines in a mirror and mulling over his craft.
“To act is to deceive,” according to the thespian’s narration. “And to deceive, one must forget oneself—now hear me roar!”
With that declaration, Hopkins fits himself with the furry, oversized costume of Wrex the Dragon and sprints onto the soccer pitch. “This is what they came to see,” he says amid the cheering crowd.
“Ironically it is the cold brew that births the fire-breathing dragon,” he says as a coda to the 60-second hero ad.
If the collaborators of this ad mashup are to be believed, Hopkins has been inhabiting the fan-favorite creature for some time and might be partly responsible for Wrexham’s move to the Premier League.
“The secret is out! For the past few seasons, one of the keys to Wrexham’s success has been the singular performance of Wrex the Red Dragon, as portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins and fueled by STōK Cold Brew Coffee,” said Wrexham AFC co-chairmen Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds. “Critics have called his performance ‘moving’ and ‘heartfelt,’ as well as ‘surprisingly acrobatic for an 80-year-old.’ We just call him a legend and are forever grateful.”
Game day brew
STōK, part of the Danone conglomerate, has made its first foray into the Super Bowl, “shamelessly challenging traditional American football culture” by turning the spotlight on a professional soccer club from the U.K.
The tactic fits into the STōK strategy of making “bold moves,” per Brittney Polka, vice president of ready-to-drink beverages at Danone North America and lead for STōK Cold Brew.
“People are used to seeing brew commercials during the Big Game, but I don’t think they expect it to be cold brew, let alone a cold brew coffee brand celebrating a Welsh soccer team,” Polka said in a statement.
For STōK, Hopkins is unleashing “his inner dragon,” per the brand. The ad comes from Reynolds’ agency, Maximum Effort, collaborating with Danone’s internal group, Harvest Creative, and director Bryan Rowland, who has won two Emmy Awards for his work on Welcome to Wrexham.
The ad is in keeping with Maximum Effort and Reynolds’ penchant for cramming more than one brand into a single spot, with a standout example from 2019 co-mingling Aviation Gin, Samsung televisions and Netflix thriller 6 Underground. ADWEEK called it a marketing turducken.
Super Bowl alum
Hopkins, a native of Wales and presumably a Wrexham fan, is no stranger to the Super Bowl, having appeared with a bevy of celebrities in the now-iconic “Alexa Loses Her Voice” commercial for Amazon Echo in 2018. He also starred in a purposely over-the-top TurboTax ad in the 2016 Big Game.
A 30-second version will air during the Big Game’s livestream on Paramount+, on Spanish-language ViX and select National Football League applications, in addition to local TV buys in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver.
STōK is already intertwined with the now-famous soccer team, becoming the official stadium sponsor in summer 2023 when the venue was renamed STōK Cae Ras/STōK Racecourse. The brand also sponsored the Wrexham team’s first U.S. tour.
For the latest Super Bowl 58 advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl 2024 Ad Tracker and the rest of our stories here. And join us on the evening of Feb. 11 for the best in-game coverage of the commercials.