A Promo Breakdown of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
For the 4th of July, I went over to my friend's house for a little cookout and ate what I would consider to be "a lot of food." The usual cookout fare: burgers, hot dogs, assorted side dishes. The works.
I did not, however, come anywhere close to what record-holding professional hot dog eater Joey Chestnut did yesterday, taking down 62 hot dogs in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The Hot Dog Eating Contest is an astounding display of what the human body is capable of, on par with any Super Bowl or American Idol. Competitors push themselves to the limit of gastronomical fortitude for the sake of our entertainment. And, just like the Super Bowl, the Hot Dog Eating Contest is also a great case study in the importance of branded items and promotional products.
I did not catch the Hot Dog Eating Contest live on ESPN, but journalistic integrity dictated that I revisited a replay this morning to pick out all of the best branding moments surrounding Chestnut and the rest of his competition.
Let's dive into it like a hot dog bun diving into a cup of water.
What is a sporting event without good jerseys? Each of the competitive eaters had a custom Nathan's-branded jersey, which sort of looked like a combination between a hockey sweater and a baseball jersey, with a patriotic motif and their names printed on the back.
When the broadcast cut to the fans, you'd see that many of them were wearing foam hot dog hats, and banging together red and yellow inflatable boom sticks — all of which also included the Nathan's logo.
Officials were placed behind each competitor holding signs that showed how many dogs they have each taken down so far. Each sign included the Nathan's logo in yellow under the numbers.
Additionally, when there was a wide shot of the event, you could see that there were branded tents and other pop-up areas around Coney Island with the Nathan's logo, too.
Finally, the backdrop of the whole event was a classic Nathan's billboard.
Speaking of those officials, they each had their own apparel for the event. The people holding the numbered signs were wearing red Nathan's T-shirts. Other officials had what looked like embroidered polo shirts. During the contest, you could see some with white polos with red logos.
After Chestnut's win, there were more officials on the stage wearing blue ones this time, and some had on red and blue branded caps.
Eating that many hot dogs will work up a sweat to say the absolute minimum about what it does to your body. Chestnut and the other competitors were seen holding blue and yellow Nathan's towels once the clock stopped.
It's possibly the most important item of the day: The championship belt. Chestnut once again took home the wrestling-style championship belt, complete with a mustard-yellow band and gold plate on the front, using the same design as the jerseys and, of course, the Nathan's logo. For the women's event, champion Miki Sudo got a similar belt but with a ketchup red design.
Chestnut, to the surprise of very few, was the winner on the podium that day, taking down the hot dog budget of most family barbecues on his own in a minuscule window of time, but with all of the branded products handed out to participants and fans, the real winner of the day is Nathan's. That's pretty much constant brand visibility across print and a variety of promotional products. There would be no question who the marquee sponsor of this event would be. (However, Pepsid deservedly got its name on the backdrop, too.)
So, let that be a lesson for promotional products distributors: Your event doesn't have to be the actual Super Bowl to use Super Bowl-level branding. Every activity has its "Super Bowl."
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make myself a salad.