Another Fourth of July has come and gone, so you’ve probably met your yearly quota for consumption of terrible parade candy, community fireworks displays, and hot dogs—lots and lots of hot dogs. Collectively, we consume 150 million weenies on Independence Day alone. It’s really not the Fourth without franks on the grill.
No one knows that better than Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Every year, their Fourth of July hot dog eating contest is broadcast on ESPN to over two million viewers. Nothing’s more American than watching champs like Eater-X down dozens of dogs in mere minutes.
What started in the 1970s as a stunt to get in the Post has ballooned into a much-anticipated “athletic” event of pomp and circumstance. Nathan’s has grown from a small stand into a multi-million dollar franchise and a household name to boot, thanks to one of the best PR stunts of all time. Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is successful for a few reasons:
- It’s authentic. Nathan’s likes to claim the annual hot dog eating contest was started in 1916 by four men who decided to settle an argument in the most patriotic way possible. The event plays into their extensive history and the heritage of Coney Island, evoking a simpler time and the American Dream. (The stand was actually opened in 1916 by a Polish immigrant who sold hot dogs for five cents apiece.)
- It’s compelling. An eating contest is a simple premise—Nathan’s just made it their own. (Actually, they made it into a professional sports league. Talk about success.)
- It sells an experience, not just a product. Hot dogs are part of the all-American summer: think beach days and ball games, cookouts and campfires. Staging a hot dog eating contest on July 4th allows Nathan’s to align their brand with American tradition and summer memories.
Keep Nathan’s recipe for success in mind next time you’re considering how to creatively market your brand. All you need is creativity, authenticity, and a squirt of mustard for your brand to get one step closer to being an all-American classic.
Have a wonderfully weenie-filled weekend, everybody!
– Your always hungry, all-American pals at Brokaw