Millions of Impressions, 10s of Thousands of Hot Dogs, 1 Chicago-Sized Brand Activation.   

Hot Dog Stand Challenge

Vienna Beef

Vienna Beef is the manufacturer and distributer of Chicagoland’s most beloved hot dog. Even so, hot dog sales were drastically down from the Covid-19 pandemic, especially at Vienna Beef’s hundreds of local hot dog stand partners. Our challenge was to help these independent hot dog stands get back on their feet by getting people to buy more hot dogs.




Organic traffic to 


Increase in Sales over 2019 

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The Big Idea

After being cooped up inside for the past 16 months, Chicagoans needed a way to get back out there and have some fun before winter forced them back indoors. We gave it to them with the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Stand Challenge—a simple brand activation challenging people to visit every independent Vienna Beef hot dog stands as they could in 60 days. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the easiest task. But, hey, if Chicagoans could wait more than 100 years for a Cubs title, they could certainly do this. And (spoiler alert) they did.  

Vienna Beef's Hot Dog Stand Challenge website and Top Dog trophy.

The Rules Were Simple

Eat hot dogs for a chance to win prizes. What’s not to love? Hot dogs, great. Prizes, also great. And we made participating easy with an intuitive online experience. A handy hot dog stand map helped contestants find their next stand, a leaderboard showed their progress and QR codes at each hot dog stand allowed people to register their stand check-ins with a quick scan on their phone.

Jump Starting the Competition

As we prepared to launch the contest, we devised a local marketing push to attract the contestants. Our PR team got the news outlets on board. Local radio and hyper-local out-of-home placements reached our on-the-go target. And local foodie influencers brought the conversation online. We also fanned the competitive flame with our own social content and data-driven, time-relevant statistics from the competition.  

Animation showcasing various implementations of the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Stand Challenge campaign.

Why It Worked

The best competitions challenge people to do something they already love doing. And, simply put, everyone loves eating hot dogs (except vegetarians, of course). While challenging people to eat hot dogs may seem like a straightforward endeavor, bringing it to life required the full services of our cross-functional teams. Our PR team got the media’s backing, our social media team enlisted local influencers, our creative team designed and created promotional pieces, our digital media secured highly targeted placements, and our web design and UI teams partnered with Vienna Beef’s frontend development agency to create the website and develop a backend API that made check-ins trackable. In the end, our work resulted in not one, but three winners making it to all hot dogs stands in only 8 weeks. And in the process, we even created an entirely new database of hot dog fans to leverage for future offers (like the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Stand Challenge, Part II).

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