Hefty Is Going All In on ‘John Cena Is a Sex Symbol’ as Its Ad Strategy

For supermarket shoppers, he can be quite a distraction

WWE star John Cena is the talk of the grocery store aisle in Hefty's new run of ads. Hefty
Headshot of Shannon Miller

John Cena is, among a host of things, a branding chameleon. Whether he’s singing the praises of car freshener or doubling as a lovelorn, vodka-slinging boy bander, the man can sell just about anything. It’s hardly difficult to figure out how this is so; his charm and versatile appeal are as magnetic as they are marketable.

That’s why Hefty has once again enlisted the help of the WWE superstar and partnering agency Havas Chicago Village for the latest Ultra Strong campaign. Pairing the durability of their trash bags with one of the toughest guys in all of entertainment? It continues to prove itself a match made in brand heaven…even if said charm can be a bit of a distraction to those in his immediate presence.

In the latest collection of ad spots, Cena is still the talk of the grocery store as he tries to preach the good word about the reliability and affordability that comes with the Hefty brand. However, it’s hard to talk trash bags when you’re face-to-face with a winning smile and a jawline that could cut glass. In each of the three ad spots—“Toddler,” Scored,” and “Checkout,”—the patrons have a humorously hard time resisting his essence:

The current campaign bears a strong resemblance to Cena’s other ads for Hefty in recent years, which actually speaks to the confidence of the brand. Rather than wasting precious airspace with time-consuming demonstrations that may or may not spark consumer interest, Hefty allows Cena’s natural persona to take center stage while letting their name and history speak for themselves.

“We continue working with John Cena because his humor and strength truly embody the brand,” says Lisa Smith, marketing vp at Hefty, “and the latest work is no different.”

Client/Brand: Reynolds Consumer Products – Hefty/Hefty Ultra Strong
President: Dave Bryla
Vice President: Lisa Smith
Sr. Marketing Director: Matt Maurer
Sr. Brand Manager: Lindsey Walter
Sr. Brand Manager: Jen Varela
Sr. Analytics Director: Michael Hugo

Creative Agency: Havas Chicago
Executive Creative Director: Tim Nolan
Group Creative Director: Karen Goodman
Sr. Copywriter: Eric Yohnka
Copywriter: Abby Wiscomb
Sr. Art Director: Sarah Berkley
Jr. Art Director: Lorenzo Jimenez
Head of Production, North America: Dave Evans
Executive Producer: Brigette Whisnant
Director of Broadcast Business Affairs: Bonnie Hamilton
Group Strategy Director: Michelle Gerstin
Senior Strategist: Lacey Meece
Group Account Director: Jennifer Bennett
Account Director: Kristy Hughes
Account Executive: Jerica DeWolfe
SVP, Group Client Director of Media: Shawn Mulroney
Associate Media Director: Michelle Keady
Senior Media Planner: Isa Brindza

Pretty Bird
Director: Matt Piedmont
Line Producer: Bernard Rahill
Executive Producer: Ali Brown
Director of Production: Tracy Hauser

Whitehouse Chicago
Editor: Dan Zabinski
Executive Producer: Kristin Angeletti
Producer: Maggie Miller

VFX Post
Managing Director: Phil Linturn
Producer: Kate Soczka

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Shannon Miller is a writer, podcast creator and contributor to Adweek.