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Addison Rae Leads Nerds Into Super Bowl Snack Battle

Addison Rae says she used to snack on Nerds when she was growing up. Now she’ll help the company that makes the unique candy pellets to convince others to do the same.

In a teaser video released in late January, the dancer and influencer was seen teaching a mysterious figure some new dance moves. “I get to teach the star how to dance, and it’s something that comes very natural to me,” Rae tells Variety.

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Now, fans can find out who was taking the lessons. A new Nerds Gummy Cluster figure will on Super Bowl Sunday roll out some new dance steps to the Irene Cara hit “Flashdance…. What a Feeling,” and be quickly surrounded by tasty Nerds candy. After the dance is over, Rae makes a quick appearance to show her approval. The ad is the first from Ferrara to be entered in the Super Bowl.

Though Rae is more prominent in the teaser, the dancer and influencer plays a pivotal role this effort campaign by Ferrara Candy Co. to introduce Nerds to the wider world. Sales of the candy have surged in the past five years, says Greg Guidotti, the company’s chief marketing officer, to $500 million from $50 million, with momentum lent by the introduction of Nerds Gummy Clusters. Yet only 16% of overall consumers, he says, are familiar with Nerds.

Ferrara executives have been asking, “How could we really kickstart our household penetration?” he said. “It really is on the world stage.”

The hope is that Rae’s appearance will bring a significant chunk of Gen Z consumers to watch for the Nerds commercial, and, in doing so, bring Nerds Gummy Clusters to their notice. The commercial marks the first time since the candy debuted in 1983 – under the Wonka brand (named for the fictional candy entrepreneur created by Roald Dahl) – that a wholly different character has been introduced to the Nerds brand universe. The candy has long been personified by animated characters in colors such as purple, pink, orange and red.

Ferrara worked with GroupM’s Mindshare, the large media-buying firm, to develop partnerships with social-media platforms that will help amplify its efforts. Mindshare also worked with with Ferrara to analyze past years of viewership trends to ensure the ad will resonate with desired audiences during the game. “Using high-reach and high-touch tactics, we know Nerds’ dynamic, influencer-led campaign will connect with viewers in the brand’s first-ever Super Bowl appearance,” says Denise Ocasio, executive director of investment at Mindshare.

Nerds will have to vie with a heady array of snacks in Super Bowl LVIII. Lindt chocolates, Oikos yogurt, Frito-Lay’s Doritos, Hershey’s Reese’s and several others are also in the mix. But Ferrara thinks its crunchy, chewy Gummy Clusters stand apart from the pack. They have “pop-ability,” like other snack foods that can be easily taken from bag to mouth, says Guidotti, and are “multi-sensorial” because they contain different textures. So it’s unlike most other snacks.

“Chocolate is chocolate. Sugar is sugar. Chips are chips,” he says. “There is something really next-level about this product.” Rae’s appearance at the end of the Super Bowl ad, he says, should “tie a bow” on the whole concept for the audience. Whether Nerds are perceived as sweet or sour on Sunday is up to the audience.

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