Washington ‘Watatos’ Roll on TV

Publicis’ offbeat work for the Washington State Potato Commission reaches TV this month for the first time.
A humorous 30-second spot, which broke in key Washington markets last week, brings to life the “Watato” seen in the Seattle agency’s earlier print and outdoor ads for the client. The Watato–a Washington spud born into a 1950s-era human family–is now adult size, and frolicking with his wife and son on a family getaway.
“Our intent was to break through the clutter and get attention in a funny, family-friendly way,” said Publicis account supervisor Jennifer Ellison.
Featuring no dialogue, the spot lets the Turtles’ 1967 hit “Happy Together” capture the bond between Washingtonians and potatoes. “I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you for all my life,” ring the lyrics, as the Watato and his kin gleefully hug, fish, picnic and hula hoop the day away.
The Moses Lake, Wash.-based client’s campaign, designed to make the state’s more heavily populated western half aware that potatoes are grown in the east, has made “Watato” something of a buzzword in Washington, Ellison said. Now in its third year, the effort has so far boosted awareness levels statewide from 26 percent to 42 percent, she said.
The spot will air throughout February and possibly again in the fall, Ellison said. Print, outdoor, transit and radio ads support. The total media budget is about $300,000, she said.