Hefty Taps John Cena & Rob Schneider To Reboot The “Hefty! Vs. Wimpy!” Campaign

One embodies strength, the other, weakness. Can you guess which is which?

There can be few clearer signals that a brand has hit that Holy Grail of marketing–the coveted notion of “entering popular culture”–than being referenced in an episode of Family Guy. So when Peter Griffin made a slightly NSFW recommendation to daughter Meg by referencing the iconic jingle of trash bag brand Hefty, revisiting the dormant chant was clearly something worth considering.


The Hefty brand is launching a new line of “Ultra Strong” trash bags with a series of TV and online spots, which, in part, play on the nostalgia for the “Hefty! Hefty! Hefty! Wimpy! Wimpy! Wimpy!” chant, not used since its ’80s heyday. Additionally, the campaign aims to use humor, by way of WWE superstar John Cena, along with actor, comedian, and SNL alum Rob Schneider, to bring the brand to as wide an audience as possible.

Hefty VP of marketing Lisa Smith explains the thinking:”People still remember the “Hefty! Hefty! Hefty!” chant. But this wasn’t just about bringing it back after 30 years. It was about contemporizing it in a way that gave a nod to the past but was relevant for today. Turning it into something modern that was smart for the brand, as well as funny and sharable.”

One of a trio of ads, created by Havas Chicago, reintroduces the “Hefty vs. Wimpy” idea all the earlier ads used but instead of demonstrating a strong Hefty bag in contrast to a flimsy one, the ad uses comedy to make the point without a product demo. Cena is the physical embodiment of strength while Schneider plays the part of, well, a bit of a dorky weakling. “It became less about showing physical tests of strength and more about how the Hefty chant, coupled with John Cena, signals the brand’s superiority,” Smith says.

The ads are intended to appeal to a broad base and stand out from the usual kind of commercials for household products. “More often than not, you see moms in the kitchen taking out the trash, or something equally as boring,” Havas Chicago CCO Jason Peterson says. “Ultimately, our goal was to bring humor and a bit of nostalgia to a not-so-humorous category. We also didn’t want only to target women. Everyone buys garbage bags, so we made sure to create a campaign that had mass, broad appeal.”

A second spot plays on John Cena’s physical appeal, specifically his pecs, which do some really quite remarkable things throughout.

In the third, a shopper turns into John Cena simply by selecting Hefty in a supermarket, whereas picking up the Wimpy brand can apparently sentence one to a lifetime as Rob Schneider.


About the author

Louise Jack is a London-based journalist, writer and editor with a background in advertising and marketing. She has written for several titles including Marketing Week, Campaign and The Independent.