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Charlie Puth is no stranger to posting entertaining videos on TikTok, but the singer and songwriter is getting animated in a whole new way as part of a Super Bowl campaign with Frito Lay.
Puth joins Megan Thee Stallion in Frito Lay’s new “Flamin’ Hot” Super Bowl spot, which promotes Doritos’ Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch chips and the popular Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Crunchy snacks. The commercial sees Megan transformed into a fiery songbird while Puth voices a beatboxing fox, among a host of other animals in a forest. The animated characters are seen lazying around, until they’re awakened by a taste of the “Flamin’ Hot” snacks. The forest floor soon transforms into a dance floor, as the critters all get down the tune of the epic Eighties anthem “Push It” from Salt-N-Pepa.
Puth first teased the commercial last week in a 30-second clip that he posted to social media, which revealed some suspicious orange “paw prints” all over his trailer. The performer says he was honored to be considered for such a large-scale campaign.
“Frito-Lay had reached out to me and said that they had a really good idea for a Super Bowl commercial. And I said, ‘Did I hear that correctly? You want me to be in a Super Bowl commercial?'” he tells Rolling Stone. “And I was really excited about it because they just told me to be myself [and] that they were going to transform me into a fox beatboxing. And so my musical sensibilities were heightened,” he says.
Puth calls the Super Bowl spot “the biggest thing ever” when it comes to big moments in his career, ranking it alongside scoring a number one hit with his song, “See You Again.” “It’s incredible to be part of such a huge thing that so many people are going to watch,” he says.
The commercial comes on the heels of Puth’s new single, “Light Switch,” which the singer finally dropped last week after teasing it for months on social media. Puth says the song just wasn’t “done” until recently, adding that he contracted Covid at the beginning of December, which pushed back plans to shoot a video.
The singer has been giving fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the recording process for “Light Switch” on his TikTok page, and he credits that interaction for the song’s success (the song debuted at number 42 on the Billboard charts, while the music video has already racked up more than 18 million views online). “It feels amazing because I really feel like people are following me on this journey on a songwriting level,” he says. “I feel like they wrote a song with me, which is maybe part of the reason why it’s doing so well, because people recognize it [and] because they have a deeper connection to it.”
And while he admits that he only started posting on TikTok to “prove that I was making music” (Puth’s last studio album, Voicenotes, came out four years ago), the artist is using social media these days to tease more details about the new album, tentatively titled, Charlie.
“It’s an unusual way of rolling out a new project, but I want people to feel more involved in this than anything they’ve ever listened to,” he says, adding that “I’ve given them songs [on social media] already that are going to be on the album.”
The plan is to release one more single before the album comes out, and Puth says eagle-eared followers might have an inside track on what the song will be. “You have heard the song already on TikTok,” he reveals. “It’s one of those songs that you’ve already heard, which will come out before the album.”
As for the Doritos and Cheetos campaign? Expect to see the full commercial debuting on the big screen during Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13.