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Hot Dog—Oscar Mayer giving away Wienermobile for a day

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(Crain News Service photos) There are six Wienermobiles, plus a Mini one.

NEW YORK (Jan. 24, 2014) — At 27-feet-long and 14,050 pounds, the Wienermobile is the largest hunk of rolling meat on the road. And it can be yours for a day.

Kraft Foods Co.'s Oscar Mayer brand is handing over one of its iconic vehicles (there are a total of six) to the winner of a social-media contest that the hot dog brand is billing as "the first time ever a vehicle of any kind is available for lease exclusively through Twitter."

To enter fans must tweet using the hashtag "#Tweet2Lease." On Feb. 7, Oscar Mayer will randomly pick a winner. But there is one catch: While the winner will get "hand's-on access to the Wienermoble," they won't be able to drive it. That duty will be left to a "Hotdogger"—one of the 12 specially trained full-time Wienermobile drivers who will act as a personal chauffeur for an eight-hour day.

The contest is being promoted with paid advertising on Motor Trend magazine and a "car commercial" by McGarryBowen that spoofs a typical luxury car ad.

The video will be posted on the Oscar Mayer YouTube channel and be promoted through PR, social media seeding and paid ad placements. The other agencies on the campaign are Olson for PR and digital agency 360i. Media is handled by Starcom USA.

Back in December 1987, a Motor Trend writer did a somewhat tongue-in-cheek "First Test" review of a just-launched new "weenie van," as he called it. Here's how the publication broke out the wheel and tire stats:

  • Wheel size—18 x 7.0 in.;
  • Wheel type—Real big;
  • Tire size—Even bigger;
  • Tire manufacturer & model—Generic; and
  • Tire construction—Black rubber.

The Twitter campaign is the latest example of the Kraft Foods Group-owned brand putting more emphasis on the Wienermobile, which first debuted in 1936 but is getting new life in the social media age.

"I don't think we've been leveraging them enough," Tom Bick, Oscar Mayer's senior director for advertising. said of the iconic dog-and-bun on wheels. "So we've been trying to bring them into the fold a little bit more in our advertising in our everyday marketing and advertising efforts. These are such strong, iconic images for us.

"They are the equivalent of our Clydesdales," he added, referring to Budweiser's famed horses.

For instance, the brand recently completed the "Wienermobile Run," in which fans could align themselves with one of the six vehicles by signing up on a microsite. The drivers—whose Weinermobiles were given social media personas like #HellOnBuns—could then win points for their team by performing tasks like getting pictures next to famous people or landmarks.

Efforts like this have helped make the Wienermobile a social media star. About 50 percent of the brand's Facebook interactions involve the vehicles, which have traditionally been used for retail promotions, Mr. Bick said. The digital campaigns put "scale behind experiential marketing," he said.

The lease contest has already generated some online buzz among car enthusiasts. As part of the paid campaign, Motor Trend earlier this week teased "the biggest car launch ever on Twitter," in a tweet that drew plenty of speculation. People guessed about everything from a new Miata to "a school bus in Bahrain." Auto-blogging site Jalopnik correctly surmised that it was the Wienermobile, based on the partial photo of a headlight in the Motor Trend tweet.

The Jalopnik reporter broke it down like this: "The look of this car doesn't really seem modern, but that taillight is full of LEDs, so I know it's likely not a vintage car—or if it is, it's heavily done up. And that color, as much as I love yellow, isn't one that's been really popular lately. And that curve of the rear body, why, it's almost...bunlike."

This report appeared on the website of Advertising Age magazine, a New York City-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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