Be careful this summer as giant wieners take to the roads

Remember the Wienermobile? Those phallic vehicles used by Oscar Mayer to promote and advertise their industrial produced, artificially flavored/colored meat scrap products (otherwise known as “hotdogs”). The first version was created in 1936 by Oscar Mayer’s nephew, Carl G. Mayer, and variants are still used by the Oscar Mayer company today. Drivers of the Wienermobiles are known as Hotdoggers and often hand out toy whistles shaped as replicas of the Wienermobile, known as Wienerwhistles.

In 2004, Oscar Mayer (now part of Kraft Foods Group – NASDAQ: KRFT) announced a contest whereby customers could win the right to use the Wienermobile for a day. Within a month, the contest had generated over 15,000 entries.

Now, to stay afloat in the rising tide of social media chatter and artificially manufactured “buzz,” Oscar Meyer, with a little help from Madison Avenue, has created a mobile marketing tour of the Wienermobiles: a cross-country road rally dubbed the “Wienermobile Run.”

To encourage consumers to follow the promotion on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the young men and women who drive the six Wienermobiles – Hotdoggers, in Oscar Mayer parlance – are being organized into teams.

Each team’s vehicle gets its own name (e.g., Autobuhn, DriftDog and SpeedyWiener) and hashtag. The teams are set to race around the country accumulating points as the drivers perform tasks or challenges submitted by the public at wienermobilerun.com.

The promotion is an effort to mash up the classic cross-country road rally with gamification, and apparently the folks at Oscar Mayer have been flooded with requests to have the Wienermobiles show up at parties and events.

The Wienermobile Run is a great example of how social media are transforming event marketing, also referred to as experiential marketing, as advertisers venture onto American highways for summer road trips. A trend our ad agency Charlotte is keeping an eye on.

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