Filmmaker Calmatic Directs Popeyes’ First Super Bowl Commercial

Get a sneak peek of the ad featuring actor Ken Jeong.

It’s often said that if you want to make your name known in these streets, you better have a go big or go home attitude. The philosophy rings true for Grammy Award-winning director Charles “Calmatic” Kidd II, who has built a successful career directing popular music videos (“Old Town Road") and films (“White Men Can’t Jump," "House Party”). Now, Calmatic is taking on a project that will put his creative direction in full view of roughly 115 million people. 

The Los Angeles-born filmmaker is directing Popeyes first commercial to air during the 2024 Super Bowl. The 60-second spot will feature comedian and co-judge on The Masked Singer Ken Jeong and his hilarious reaction to waking up in a completely unfamiliar world.

"Growing up, I lived right around the corner from Popeyes,” said Calmatic in an interview with “I used to go to Popeyes at least once a week, so it's really cool to work with brands you connect to. It was great to help them create this visual for their first Super Bowl commercial."

The Popeyes ad will air during the big game on Sunday, February 11. The commercial, created by Popeyes in partnership with its creative agency, McKinney, features Jeong, as a man cryogenically frozen for 52 years until a better chicken wing can be made.

Once unfrozen, he finally gets to enjoy five delicious new Popeyes wings flavors while he explores how radically things have changed. You’ll see him interacting with a rumba, mesmerized by delivery drones, feeling the feels of a massage chair rub down, and trying Popeyes wings for the first time— all parts of a modern world that would have seemed impossible five decades ago.  

Take a look at a shorter version of the ad below:

"You see how ridiculous or cool our current way of living is. If someone was frozen in the 1970s and you unthawed them today, what would they be amazed by? Robot vacuum cleaners? Self-driving cars? I wanted to bring it all together to show how far we've come with the technology that we use every day without thinking twice about it," said Calmatic.

While this is the first Popeyes ad to air during a Super Bowl game, it’s not the first for Calmatic. His previous experience directing Super Bowl commercials is what piqued their interest, as was his feature film and music video directing experience. Plus, Calmatic knows how to bring out the best performances from visionary artists, having worked with Lil Nas X, Anderson Paak, and Kendrick Lamar. 

Calmatic explains that the difference between directing commercials and videos is all about timing. He often aligns the visuals with the lyrics in videos, always keeping the length of the song top of mind. With commercials, he has limited time to fit everything in.

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"I like to storyboard for my process. I like to take out images of every scene I imagine and dump them into these 30 seconds to see where everything ends up,” stated Calmatic. “I'm like, ‘O.K., this moment, we need four seconds; this moment needs to be two seconds.' Once you get that math down, you can add or take away things to make it fit and feel like you didn't just squeeze it all in." 

The successful filmmaker plans to watch the full version of the Popeyes ad alongside family and friends on Sunday, but isn’t exactly invested in the big game itself. As a Raiders fan, he's not concerned about who comes out on top between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, but like many of us, he is really looking forward to Usher's halftime performance. 

"Usher is having a moment right now. Doing a residency in Vegas and then parlaying that into performing at halftime is amazing. Super Bowl halftime performances are one of those things where you think, 'What legends do we have left?' Usher's name isn't brought up enough in that conversation," said Calmatic.

Comedian and actor Ken Jeong in the new Popeyes ad.

Courtesy of Popeyes

Comedian and actor Ken Jeong in the new Popeyes ad.

Besides being entertained by Usher and watching the rivalry between these two teams play out, Calmatic believes his Popeyes commercial has what it takes to be remembered for years to come. Working with the versatility of Jeong, whom he described as “amazing,” helped to make the commercial memorable and feel like a mini-movie. And with this go big or go home attitude, you never know where the concept will go from there. 

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