Ad Meter 2020: Going through Super Bowl ads that left us thinking. USA TODAY
Move over, Phil.
Poppy is the new star in Pennsylvania.
The 10-month old rodent from Lancaster County starred in Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” commercial that scored first place in USA TODAY’s Ad Meter during the Super Bowl.
“She is a little rock star,” said Betsy Shank, Poppy’s handler.
Poppy is from the Raven Ridge Wildlife Center, a nonprofit organization in Washington Boro, and she helps to serve as an ambassador for wildlife education. The groundhog had to have her incisors removed because of a birth defect. She will never be able to live in the wild.
But she is tolerant of people.
Shank received a phone call last month that Jeep was looking for a groundhog to film for its commercial, a reprise of the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray. Poppy went through a casting call and was selected for the position.
They traveled to Woodstock, Illinois, at the end of January and spent several days there while crews filmed the commercial. In the ad, Bill Murray holds Poppy while driving the Jeep Gladiator, puts a helmet on her head when they go for a bike ride, and carries her in a baby carrier while snowshoeing.
Murray spent time with Poppy before she acted for the cameras. He was a little hesitant about holding her because he had been bitten during the filming of the movie, Shank said. She gave Murray pointers on how the groundhog communicates, and they worked great together.
“She really, really did a good job,” Shank said.
Shank held Poppy or was within several feet of her during the filming of the scenes. For example, Shank was sitting in the Jeep holding Poppy on her knee when the groundhog was looking out the window.
“There’s a lot of TV/movie magic going on,” Shank said. “… I will never look at a commercial the same way.”
The groundhog’s safety and security was foremost during the entire process, she said. Their agent and a humane animal representative also were present.
Poppy brought the little helmet home to keep as a souvenir.
“Yesterday we all sat here and collectively had our jaws hit the floor when we saw the commercial,” Shank said. “And we just sort of stared at each other like, ‘Oh my God, this actually just happened.’ “
Raven Ridge Wildlife Center received compensation for Poppy’s role in the commercial. Shank declined to say how much.
Raven Ridge Wildlife Center helps to rehabilitate mammals, raptors and waterfowl as well as educate the public about animals and how they help the environment, she said.
Poppy made her first prognostication at a family-friendly event on Saturday in Lancaster County. She, too, predicted it will be an early spring, Shank said.
Poppy also has her own collection. Eric & Christopher of Bucks County made pillows and totes that are being sold at Ville + Rue by domaci in Lancaster County. Part of the proceeds will go to the wildlife center.
With the popularity of the advertisement, Poppy’s already in demand, Shank said. The wildlife center is talking about planning another event for the groundhog.
“The interest level with Poppy just kind of went clear to the moon,” she said. “…But Poppy needs a break. We need a break.”
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