Considering it was the biggest song of 2019, it wasn’t a case of “if someone would use ‘Old Town Road’ in a Super Bowl 54 commercial,” but who would be the first brand to secure Lil Nas X’s record-breaking hit song. Like a lucky prospector who finds their way to the motherlode, Doritos staked their claim and got there first. In their Super Bowl 54 commercial, airing during the big game on Feb. 2, the 20-year-old rapper does precisely what his song says: he rides his horse to the old town road. Specifically, he rides into the town of Cool Ranch, as Doritos is advertising that their Cool Ranch flavor is even cooler.
Lil Nas’s horse tack is attached, but this time around, it’s a massive sound-system blasting that familiar bassline. His hat is matte black and yes – he’s got the boots to match. He doesn’t have a bag of Doritos. Sooner than you can say The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Nas and Sam Elliott square up – but this is no ordinary showdown. It’s a dance contest, and despite 75-years-old, Sam has some tricks up his sleeve…or on the top of his lip. Without spoiling it, it comes down to the wire – and one cowboy rides off into the sunset while snacking on some chips. Of course, Lil Nas X riding alone is like having Doritos without dip on Game Day. Check out that guitar-slinger. Kind of looks like Billy Ray Cyrus, doesn’t he?
In the first teaser of the spot, Sam Elliott (aka a man who has played a cowboy in everything from Gunsmoke to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Tombstone to The Big Lebowski) saunters into an old Western saloon, orders himself a whiskey, and delivers a line in his trademark, gravelly voice. “I’ve got the horses in the back,” he begins, before reciting the rest of the first verse of “Old Town Road.” As if hearing Sam Elliott say, “Can’t nobody tell me nothin'” wasn’t good enough, in comes that bassline that conquered the top of the Billboard charts for a record-breaking nineteen consecutive weeks.
“Fans have come to expect Doritos to show up big with our Super Bowl advertising, and since we’re making Doritos Cool Ranch even cooler this year, we knew we had to enlist the help of a few of the coolest and most popular voices of the past year,” said Rachel Ferdinando, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Frito-Lay North America, in a press release. “Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus are as iconic of a duo as it gets to help us introduce the new power punch to one of our most beloved flavors — Cool Ranch. Pair them with legendary actor Sam Elliott, and you get pure country ranch magic in a commercial that’s bound to get our fans amped on game day.”
So, how did it all happen? “[Doritos]were like, “Nas, we love you so much! Please, please, we need you!” No, I’m joking,” Lil Nas X told Billboard. “They gave me the opportunity to do the commercial, and it was an immediate yes, pretty much. Having a Super Bowl commercial still hasn’t sunk in. But it’s such a huge thing, especially for me being such a new artist — or any artist or actor whatsoever. Being in this commercial is dope. I had so much fun shooting, and I got to meet Sam, which was pretty cool.”
“I found him incredible,” Sam said when describing working with Lil Nas X to AdAge. “I was curious going out there … here was this kid who was virtually unknown to anyone a year ago. With this thing to blow up as it has, I was curious to know how he was handling it all at 19 years old. I found him a pretty solid kid. I don’t think anything has gone to his head. He’s very mature. He has a lot to learn in the film business, but I thought he did a good job. He listened to the director. He was paying attention the whole time.”
“You know, when you step into the hot seat, and you’re in front of a camera for the first time on a film set, it’s a whole different deal than being up on stage singing a song you wrote. I thought he fared really well with it. He was a pleasure to be around. I was impressed with him enough to go to the Grammys the first time the other night. We were happy to see him running around in his hot pink outfit.”