Nelly Gives Flamin’ Hot Lay’s His Seal of Approval

Naturally, the flavor is hot … in 'herre'

Nelly and his 2002 hit are heralding the launch of a new flavor. Lay's

To celebrate the launch of a new Flamin’ Hot flavor, chip brand Lay’s partnered with rapper—and brand fan—Nelly to produce a commercial featuring a PG version of his 2002 hit, “Hot in Herre.”

The new Lay’s Flamin’ Hot hit store shelves on Monday. The brand said hot and spicy food is “one of the fastest-growing segments in the food industry.” Lay’s noted the reformulated version—which includes “an increased, optimized heat”—has “[pivoted] from a barbecue base to a cheese base” as a result of customer feedback.

And, Lay’s said, they needed “an artist who knows how to bring the heat” to generate fan excitement.

Enter Nelly, who said the collaboration—his first time working with the brand—was “kind of destined to happen.”

“I think they wanted to do something really, really dope with this campaign—and what can be doper than Flamin’ Hot with ‘Hot in Herre’?” he added.

The now nearly 19-year-old tune was reportedly ranked among the most popular songs in commercials in 2016 when it was featured in ads for Bud Light’s Lime-a-Ritas.

A great groove

Nelly attributed its commercial success and longevity to overall appeal.

“It’s just one of those songs that definitely has a great groove … even if you’re not listening to the lyrics, you still feel it, you still get the purpose of the record,” Nelly said.

After tapping ‘80s pop star Rick Astley for a New Year’s campaign, you might be wondering if Frito-Lay is planning an entire series of nostalgic audio-based ads for 2021, but that’s not the case.

“Frito-Lay does not have any additional nostalgia campaigns planned for this year,” a spokesperson said.

Nelly on fire

Apart from Lay’s Flamin’ Hot, another thing that’s on fire right now is Nelly. He recently released a new single and has an EP coming out in 2021. He has also been cast as the musician Chuck Berry in a forthcoming biopic. That’s after he appeared on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, finishing in third place. During the dance competition’s 29th season, which aired in the fall, mentions of Nelly on Twitter increased 85% compared to the same time a year prior, according to data from the social platform.

Like his recent partnership with Budweiser, which was centered on their hometown of St. Louis, Nelly said he looks for brand partnerships that align with “me continuing to be Nelly without stepping outside of the boundary of what I do.”

“I’ve been eating Flamin’ Hot for a while,” he added. “And with Budweiser, that was perfect St. Louis connection—and they’ve been supporting me since the beginning of my career as well.”

A cult favorite

While it was not immediately clear when precisely Lay’s Flamin’ Hot debuted, the Flamin’ Hot version of sister brand Cheetos dates back to 1992. The line has since expanded to include brands like Smartfood, Doritos, Ruffles and Tostitos.

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, however, is a cult favorite. Selena Gomez has posted an image of herself eating them on Instagram. Katy Perry dressed up as one for Halloween. And Eva Longoria is set to direct a biopic of Richard Montañez, a former janitor at Frito-Lay who invented the popular snack.

In 2019, the app-based delivery service goPuff, which provides consumer goods ranging from groceries to cleaning supplies in 500 U.S. cities, revealed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was the platform’s best-selling snack brand for the third year in a row.

@lisalacy lisa.lacy@adweek.com Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.
@hiebertpaul paul.hiebert@adweek.com Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.
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