Oscar Mayer is driving its six Wienermobiles across the country this spring and summer to hype its reformulated hot dogs.
The products now contain no added nitrates or nitrites (well, except those naturally occurring in the celery juice that Oscar Mayer uses to preserve product quality instead), no artificial preservatives and no by-products.
The promotional effort kicked off in early May and will heat up for big seasonal moments such as Memorial Day parades and Independence Day. While Wienermobiles have been around since 1936, they still garner plenty of attention, as was seen in New York earlier this month and in the brand's own video, shot in small-town Whittier, Alaska.
Parent company Kraft Heinz Co. also wanted to give its employees the chance to taste the updated products, so executives including Greg Guidotti, head of marketing at Oscar Mayer, are slinging dogs at company offices.
On Thursday, he and others on the Oscar Mayer team served lunch at the company's Chicago headquarters, while other crews did the same at its tech center in nearby Glenview, Ill., the other headquarters in Pittsburgh, and at the Pittsburgh innovation center. This being Kraft Heinz, of course, condiments included Heinz ketchup, mustard and relish, while the beverage of choice was Crystal Light lemonade.
Earlier this month, Guidotti and others went to the hot dog plant in Columbia, Mo., to feed workers there during daytime and overnight shifts. Guidotti estimates he ate eight hot dogs over his two days there.
"We have a responsibility to bring consumers back to the category," Guidotti said during a break from serving. He and others were wearing Oscar Mayer shirts with taglines such as "for the love of hot dogs." Guidotti, who moved to Oscar Mayer in August after promoting reformulated macaroni and cheese during his tenure on Kraft Heinz's meals business, is clearly entrenched in his latest brand. During Thursday's lunch, he also wore the Paul Frank-designed Wienermobile belt buckle he bought himself on eBay.
Oscar Mayer plans to spent about twice as much on media this year as it did in 2016 as it promotes the new recipes, he said, with TV, radio, social media and other plans. Agencies on the campaign include McGarryBowen on creative, Starcom on media and Olson on PR. And retailers are, well, hungry for increased grocery sales. The product reformulations have led to more retailer merchandising programs than a year ago.
Along with the mainstay products, Guidotti is keeping an eye on the upscale competition in encased meats, and points to sausage as a "leading indicator." Oscar Mayer is present in such areas, with products including natural, uncured sausages in flavors including roasted peppers and onions. They're a smaller play for a company like Kraft Heinz, but it's important to be there, Guidotti said.
Text by Jessica Wohl. Video by Nate Skid.