He has an impressive 17-foot-long train of hair — or at least he did until he decided to get it all chopped off.

Because he's thinking about applying to astronaut school, of course.

Great Clips will introduce "Ralphpunzel" — a male version of the Rapunzel of fairy tale fame — to millions of college football fans this week. It's the latest in a series of quirky ads by the Bloomington-based hair salon chain to promote its app that allows customers to check in online.

"It saves you time," Ralphpunzel tells his friends while they are still reeling from the news he is going to hack off his squirrely mane.

Minneapolis-based ad agency Periscope created the 30-second spot for Great Clips. It will air during college bowl games this week as well as the national championship game on Jan. 12.

After the Super Bowl, those are some of the most coveted spots for advertisers, said Chris Wareham, Periscope's creative director.

"You have a huge audience, so you have to bring your A game," he said. "We wanted something people will talk about."

The football games also fit in nicely with Great Clips' target audience: men 18 to 34. The company began advertising during the bowl games about three years ago.

One of its first commercials during the bowl games was a spot in which a wife catches her husband in skintight exercise shorts gyrating to an old-school Jazzercise video. She reminds him he was going to get a haircut. He responds that he already checked in through Great Clips' app and resumes his exercises.

Last year, it ran an campaign to promote a contest to win "the greatest weekend ever" — to attend a NASCAR race, meet Dale Earnhardt Jr. and get a Chevy truck. The commercial featured sweeping, dramatic music and starts off by showing grown men sleeping as they live out their dreams.

About 70 percent of Great Clips' customers are male. It's a demographic that generally likes to walk in to get a haircut and doesn't mind seeing a different stylist from their last visit.

"Women like to have the same stylist every time," said Ann Latendresse, Great Clips' director of brand marketing. "They see a haircut as more of an event. But a lot of guys see it as a chore."

That's why Great Clips is so focused on touting its online check-in service, which helps cut down on the time customers have to wait once they get to the salon. The app has been downloaded more than 3 million times and is used by about 20 percent of its customers, she said.

While some other companies have rolled out similar services, Great Clips was among the first to do so, she added.

"Once someone has that app on their phone, it's going to make them more loyal to us," said Latendresse. "So we really want to promote that as much as we can."

Before Periscope became Great Clip's agency of record in 2011, the chain's advertising was fairly straightforward, said Wareham, and it had a broader audience. But it has since narrowed its focus on millennials.

"It's been a complete 180 from a brand perspective," Wareham said. "Bringing some humor makes a huge difference. Why do advertising if it's boring and plain?"

The "Ralphpunzel" spot was shot in Toronto over nine days last month. It first aired on Dec. 20 during a bowl game, but it will have a much bigger audience on New Year's Day.

So how did they build Ralphpunzel's unforgettable tresses that drag on the floor behind him?

It was made from real human hair and was colored to matched the actor's hair, Wareham said.

But the extra hair wasn't just used to add length. It also helped patch up the actor's receding hairline.

"We had to fill it in a bit," he said. "We put a little more hair on the top."