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Volume 20 No. 42
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Pacquiao cracks celebrity lineup for nuts

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The 15-second TV spot opens with boxer Manny Pacquiao rhythmically peppering a green speed bag to music. When he unleashes a hard left hand, the bag explodes, spraying hundreds of pistachio nuts into the air. “Manny Pacquiao does it,” the narrator says seconds before impact, “with a knockout punch.”

Pacquiao joins Snoop, Snooki and the Simpsons in a quirky stable of pop culture figures to appear in Wonderful Pistachios’ 3-year-old “Get Crackin’” ad campaign. The fighter’s spot debuts tonight during “Monday Night Football,” then airs on “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Wonderful Pistachios — a brand of California-based Paramount Farms — also will sponsor Pacquiao’s HBO pay-per-view fight against Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night, signing on
Manny Pacquiao’s ad for Wonderful Pistachios debuts tonight during “Monday Night Football.” Wonderful also is one of six sponsors for the boxer’s Saturday PPV fight.
with Top Rank in a deal that includes the Get Crackin’ slogan on the ring mat and on Pacquiao’s trunks, signs at the weigh-in, and pistachio sampling at the MGM Grand Arena on fight night.

The one-year endorsement deal will pay Pacquiao in the mid-six figures, according to a sports marketing source. Paramount Farms executives would not discuss financial terms.

This is Pacquiao’s third deal from outside the usual lineup of brands that cast athletes in commercials. He appeared in a national spot for Hewlett-Packard’s tablet computer 18 months ago and in Hennessy’s “What’s Your Wild Rabbit” campaign earlier this year. Hennessy has renewed Pacquiao for 2013.

“The Get Crackin’ campaign is one of those places that you should want to be right now if you’re in the sports world,” said Lucia McKelvey, Pacquiao’s deal agent at boxing promoter Top Rank. “It’s fun. It’s great, visually. And they’ll have a huge media buy. It’s a great fit for Manny.”

Paramount Farms will spend about $40 million behind at least a dozen Get Crackin’ spots it will air this season, company executives said. It has spent about $130 million on ad buys since launching the campaign late in 2009.

The deal with Pacquiao began percolating shortly after the London Olympics, where Paramount Farms sponsored boxer Jose Ramirez, who is from Avenal, Calif., about 30 miles from the company’s pistachio processing plant in the San Joaquin Valley. Ramirez signed with Top Rank early last month and will make his debut on the undercard of Saturday’s fight. He, too, will wear the Get Crackin’ slogan on his trunks.

“We were kicking around ideas and thought it’d be great to have an ad that leveraged the physical, fun nature of boxing,” said Marc Seguin, vice president of marketing for Paramount Farms. “We knew boxing would work well. The next question was ‘Who is topical that has social currency and will reach a lot of folks?’ It wasn’t a hugely complicated equation.”

The Get Crackin’ campaign features what the brand calls “P-list” celebrities and other characters cracking open pistachios in creative ways. Bart Simpson slingshots them off Homer. Vincent Pastore of “The Sopranos” slams one open by banging a man’s forehead into a table. YouTube sensation Keyboard Cat taps one open on its piano keys.

It was a natural progression to a Pacquiao punch.

Pacquiao shot the commercial early last month in Los Angeles. Since then, Wonderful’s sweet chili-flavored pistachios have been a fixture at his training camp.

Wonderful joins a roster of six sponsors on the Pacquiao-Marquez fight: Tecate, Mexican wireless provider Telcel, Philippine wireless provider Smart, the Cinemax series “Banshee” and the Weinstein Co./Columbia Pictures film “Django.”