Farmer John Beefs Up Hot Dog Marketing | Adweek
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Farmer John Beefs Up Hot Dog Marketing

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Mendelsohn Zien Advertising hopes to help Hormel bring stadium rock home in its first work for the Farmer John hot dogs brand. Ads salute specific parks that serve the regional brand and convey the sense of enjoying a dog at a game and extending it to everyday life.

One 15-second spot pans across an extreme close-up of a hot dog with all the condiments and fixings. “Most stadiums stop serving beer in the seventh inning,” a male voice dryly says as we hear a crowd perform a rousing stomp that is reminiscent of the Queen song “We Will Rock You,” that unofficial ballpark anthem. “Thankfully they don’t do that with hot dogs.” In another commercial that’s visually identical, he drones, “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack? You gotta be kidding,” to a wailing electric guitar version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Both ads tag with the line, “Get the hot dogs you eat at the game, at home.”

The Los Angeles-based meats brand sells primarily in the Southwest. Farmer John was family-owned until Hormel purchased it from Clougherty Packing in 2004. Traditionally, the brand has targeted its mostly pork products at Hispanics.

“I think they felt they had made significant inroads to that market and it was time to move to the general market,” said Claudia Caplan, CMO for Mendelsohn Zien, Los Angeles, which won the account last November.

A third ad opens on a street of Los Angeles and then shows aerial views of the Southland’s stadiums, including the Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, Dodger Stadium, and Staples Center. “Ask people what the best hot dog is and they’ll tell you it wasn’t the one they had at their home,” an announcer says. “It was the one they had visiting this home.” The excitement of the games is captured through cheering crowds and barking vendors as the various venues draw near. There are six spots in all.

The campaign focuses on local media and concentrates on sporting events and sports news programming. Mendelsohn Zien would not disclose the budget, but said this is Farmer John’s biggest spending to date and is more money than any national competitor—such as Ball Park, Oscar Mayer or Hebrew National—has dedicated to Farmer John’s market.

The buy will be supplemented with print, radio, Web and out-of-home efforts. Dodgers announcer Vin Scully will continue to be the brand’s radio voice. (Farmer John is known locally for its Dodger Dogs, which sell at games and also in grocery stores seasonally.) Online, the brand will use Evite to encourage sports fans to throw barbeques. It will serve as "The Official Tailgate Food of the Pac-10 Conference."