I learnt about an amazing brand property earlier this year, when over in Chicago speaking on growing the core at Kraft's North American marketing conference. The brand property in question in Oscar Mayer's "Wienermobile", the name for a series of automobiles shaped like a hot dog on a bun, which are used to promote and advertise Oscar Mayer's range of hot dogs, bacon and deli meats.
The first Winermobile was created in 1936 by Oscar Mayer's nephew, Carl G. Mayer, and its still going strong, with six of them travelling the USA to promote the brand and sample products.
Here's my take on why this is a powerful brand property.
1. Creating memory structure
How many brands can you think off that have turned a sampling vehicle into a distinctive brand property that has created memory structure? Not many I would guess come close to the Wienermobile. Hats off to the generations of Oscar Mayer brand leaders who have stuck with the same property for over three quarters of a century!
The Wienermobile seems to create a strong connection with people, who feel real affection for it. People love spotting a Wienermobile, and the rise of the smartphone makes it easier to snap and share photos of it. Here's a quote from someone about their experience, from brand-taxi.com:
Recently, my wife and I were driving in central New York State and passed a Wienermobile on the highway. We smiled and gave a thumbs up. But at that moment, I felt a stronger connection to the Oscar Mayer brand than ever before. No wonder, it was a significant “brand touch point” moment.
3. A young face for the brand
One clever thing about the Wienermobile program is drivers, known as "Hotdoggers". Rather than just get any old driver, the brand recruit senior college students. The company get an average of 2000 applicants a year, with a pool of thirty final-round candidates interviewed for the final jobs. This presents a youthful, enthusiastic face to a long established brand. And it also helps create a bit of extra buzz; 2000 applicants each telling a few people about what they're doing adds up to quite a bit of word-of-mouth
4. Refreshing what made you famous
Its great to see how Oscar Mayer have updated and refreshed the property, making use of digital media. Those 12 Hotdoggers (2 per vehicle) are obviously super savvy when it comes to all things digital, and so they blog and Tweet about their experience (which lasts one year). There is also part of the brand's website here dedicated to the Wienermobile, including a blog and a map to track its journey arond the country.
In 2013 the brand went a step further by allowing people to vote for their favourite Wienermobile team, as described on Clickz.com: "The teams can earn points by getting fan photos on Twitter and Instagram, as well as securing photos with famous landmarks or fulfilling so-called "Wienermobile Dreams," such as taking a bride and groom to their wedding." This is one social example where you can see people bothering to participate, as it taps into a property that people are interested in and already commenting on. This is reflected in 23,000+ people joining teams in the program's first three days.
In conclusion, Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile is a brilliant example of a distinctive brand property that has been created, amplified and refreshed through multiple generations of marketing teams.