Kate McKinnon and Dan Levy Need a Sitcom, Judging by Their Hilarious Tostitos Ad

Dipping into improv for Habanero chips

"For me, the spice is pelvicular," says actor/comedian Dan Levy, rolling his hips maniacally to illustrate the bold taste of Tostitos Habanero.

Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon concurs on the hotness of the chips, but prefers soap-opera theatrics to capture the essence of their flavor.

"For me, I think it's ... it's drama," she says. "It's, 'Victor, I'm leaving!' That sort of level of spicy."

The pair carry on thusly for more than a minute in the amusing ad below, each trying to out-do the other.

Tostitos | 'One Upper' with Dan Levy and Kate McKinnon

At one point, Levy whips out his phone.

Dan: "It's like that."

Kate (checks the screen): "Haaatch! That is spicy. Wow wow wow wow!"

Dan (proudly): Yes.

Their comic stylings reinforce the Frito-Lay brand's positing as a great snack to share with friends, especially with Covid-19 vaccines getting into more arms every day and social get-togethers on the rise.

"Given the physical nature of the script, their ability to put the whole of themselves into each joke and interaction made them perfect for the campaign," says Eamonn Dixon, creative director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which developed the campaign with Moxie Pictures director Martin Granger.

McKinnon and Levy bonded the week prior to the shoot, when the latter hosted SNL, helping them generate some extra chemistry and comic oomph for the commercial, Dixon says.

Though scripted, "we made sure to leave enough time for them to play," notes Stefan Copiz, also a Goodby CD. "And of course, that's when most of the magic happened. After two days of non-stop improv, we had enough footage to launch a comedy mini-series for Tostitos. Which was both a blessing and a curse in the edit—how do you fit this into a 30-second commercial?"

McKinnon and Levy assisted the team in that regard, helping them edit and tweak the final product.

The first commercial breaks on TV and online this weekend, while a second outing will focus on alerting friends to salsa stains on their shirts. (Through manic hand gestures, saucy one-liners and bizarre gyrations, no doubt.)


Client: Frito Lay
Brand: Tostitos
Campaign Name: For the Love of Chips and Dip
Spot Name (#1): One-Upper
Spot Name(#2): Not a Word
Air Date(#1): 3/27/21
Air Date(#2): 4/3/21 
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

CMO: Rachel Ferdinando
SVP, Marketing Communications: Tina Mahal
Senior Director, Marketing Communications: Anya Schmidt
Director, Marketing Communications: Hana Golden
Brand Manager: Lauren Niculescu
Marketing Manager, Consumer Insights: Nityam Khanna


Chief Creative Officer: Margaret Johnson
Creative Director: Eamonn Dixon
Creative Director: Stefan Copiz
Art Director: Ben McCarthy
Copywriter: Sebastian Housden
Art Director: Jelena Kolomejac
Copywriter: Sydney Lindsey

Account Services 
Managing Partner: Brian McPherson
Group Account Director: Meredith Williams
Account Director: Clark Gieseke
Account Manager: Amanda Charney
Account Manager: Andrew Betoff

Brand and Communication Strategy 
Partner, Head of Brand Strategy: Bonnie Wan
Partner, Head of Communication Strategy: Christine Chen
Group Brand Strategy Director: Ralph Paone
Senior Brand Strategist: Ida Persson
Senior Communications Strategist: Drew Forrest
Sr. Research & Analytics Strategist: Ian Heath

Director of Production: Leila Gage
Executive Producer: Sara Ward
Senior Producer: Christine Oh

Production Company 
Company name: Moxie Pictures
Director: Martin Granger
Director of Photography: Jonathan Freeman
Producer: Matthew O'Shea
VP/Executive Producer: Karol Zeno
Head of Production: Jodi Fisher

Editorial Company
Company name: EXILE
Editor: Katie Turinski
Assistant Editor: Brad Dupuie
Executive Producer: CL Kumpata
Head of Production: Jennifer Locke
Producer: Catherine Liu

Company name: The Mill
Colorist: Paul Yakono
Senior Color Producer: Denise Brown
Color Assist: Gemma Parr
Color Assist: Logan Highlen

Company name: The Mill
Executive Creative Director: Chris Knight
VFX Supervisor: Gareth Parr
2D Artist: Yukiko Ishiwata
2D Artist: Kevin Diaz
Executive Producer/Managing Director: Anastasia von Rahl
Producer: Valentina Cokonis
Production Coordinator: James Panetta

Sound Design and Mix
Company name: Lime
Audio Mixer: Sam Casas
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Senior Producer: Kayla Phungglan

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