Port Charlotte cat competes to be next Cadbury Bunny in TV commercial

The Persian cat beat more than 12,000 other pets to become a finalist…

Port Charlotte cat competes to be next Cadbury Bunny in TV commercial 1
Port Charlotte cat competes to be next Cadbury Bunny in TV commercial 2

Pepa the Cat wears sunglasses everywhere he goes. He rides around in a toy car. He loves costumes — including swim trunks and a tiny leather jacket.

And if everything goes well, he’ll be TV’s new Cadbury Bunny, too.

All he needs are the votes.

“It’s pretty exciting, you know?” says Pepa’s “mom,” Kat Sanne of Port Charlotte. “I never thought this would happen in a million years.”

The Persian cat beat more than 12,000 other pets to become a top-10 finalist for Cadbury’s 2021 Cadbury Bunny Tryouts, according to a Cadbury press release. The winner gets to put on rabbit ears and star in the candy company’s next “Clucking Bunny” Easter commercial.

Online voting continues through March 17 at bunnytryouts.cadburyusa.com. People can vote once every day.

The winner will be announced March 23.

Pepa is up against some adorable competition, including several dogs, a Maryland bunny named Potato and a Texas alpaca named Waylon.

More TV coverage: Southwest Florida’s biggest reality TV stars, from ‘Survivor’ to ‘The Voice’

Pepa’s the only cat in the running, though, and Sanne thinks the 3-year-old has what it takes to be a TV star.

He loves costumes, for one thing. And he’s super-chill, too.

“Pepa is extremely relaxed,” she says. “Anything goes. It doesn’t matter.”

That includes walking with Sanne and her husband, Bobby, on the beach (no leash required) or riding around their neighborhood in a kid’s toy car. Sanne just tapes down the “gas” pedal and slowly walks next to Pepa as he enjoys the ride.

“It’s hilarious!” she says. “He’s so funny.”

It’s not like Pepa’s a stranger to TV, either. He and another of Sanne’s cats, Bon Bon, even have an agent in Fort Lauderdale. Pepa has appeared in a commercial for Best Buy (although Sanne isn’t sure the commercial ever aired), and Bon Bon starred in a 2019 Chewy.com commercial called “Picky Eater.”

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Sanne hopes Pepa can land more roles in commercials and maybe even some movies, too. Winning the Cadbury contest might help them reach that goal.

She saw the contest online about a month ago and submitted photos of Pepa dressed up and posing with an Easter basket. “I said, ‘You know what, why not?’” she says. “I’ll give it a shot.”

The winner of the contest will replace Lieutenant Dan, the dog who appeared in Cadbury’s 2020 commercial. Judges looked at the thousands of submissions and narrowed them down to just 10 finalists.

“The Cadbury Bunny Tryouts saw a record number of entries thanks to the pet paw-rents showing off their beloved pets that have been so important to them during the past year’s circumstances,” said Cadbury’s senior associate brand manager, Trevor Jakubek, in this week’s press release.

“Together, with our special guest judge Lt. Dan, we’re thrilled to announce the finalists and let America vote on the 2021 Cadbury Bunny who will star in this year’s commercial.”

Pepa is one of six cats owned by the Sannes. They breed Persians for their cattery, Katzeye.

Pepa can often be seen around Southwest Florida hanging out with his humans. Sometimes he wears outfits — everything from swim trunks to a Harley-Davidson jacket to various Halloween costumes. But he almost always wears sunglasses over his copper-colored eyes.

“They’re his trademark,” Sanne says. “And he doesn’t mind them.”

And, no, the cat isn’t named after TV cartoon character Peppa Pig. Sanne and her husband started calling him Pepper for his black-and-white coat. And slowly that evolved to “Pepa.”

“He’s just really outgoing and spicy,” Sanne says. “Pepa just kinda started sticking.”


In addition to appearing a Cadbury commercial, the winner of this year’s contest gets $5,000. For more about the contest and the other contestants, visit bunnytryouts.cadburyusa.com, facebook.com/CadburyUSA, instagram.com/cadburyusa or twitter.com/CadburyUSA.

Learn more about Pepa at facebook.com/persian.pepa.3 or instagram.com/persianpepa.

Connect with this reporter: Email crunnells@gannett.com or connect on social media at Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter) and @crunnells1 (Instagram).

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