Vienna Beef Hot Dog Stand Challenge

What We Did

Planned, executed and publicized an attention-worthy PR stunt to get people excited about dining at independent hot dog stands.

The Result

National earned media coverage reaching hundreds of millions of impressions and double-digit sales increase.

Reintroducing Chicago’s favorite dog.

2020 was a difficult year for the dining and hospitality industry. The pandemic forced millions of businesses to close doors, some permanently.

When it was safe for vendors to re-open their hot dog stands, business just wasn’t the same. To help, we strategized a plan that would spur engagement across hundreds of independent hot dog stands in Chicago, Wisconsin and Indiana—The Vienna Beef Hot Dog Stand Challenge.


The challenge encouraged participants to visit as many Vienna Beef stands as they could within a 60-day window. Due to the short runtime, its success hinged on continuously attracting earned media to drive participation.  

Our Laughlin Constable PR team had just 2 months to plan and deliver a robust public relations campaign.  

With the focus primarily on media attention, we coordinated multiple events, trained vendors and key spokespeople, coordinated interviews, pitched regional, national and trade media and crafted compelling content for media use.  

In addition to helping their vendors, Vienna Beef also made a donation to the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to benefit the recovering dining and hospitality industry as a whole. This became the true “why” of our media communications—this wasn’t just a marketing effort to bolster a brand, it was an initiative to help others when they needed support.  

HDSC Media Images

Increasing impressions, headlines and hot dog sales.

Media efforts resulted in coverage at both local and national levels. People read about the Hot Dog Stand Challenge in media outlets like Thrillist, The Takeout and Yahoo News, and followed it locally through WGN, Block Club Chicago and FOX 32. Not only did the campaign result in 185.6M earned media impressions and almost 300 media mentions, LCPR secured a guest appearance on NBC’s The Kelly Clarkson Show for the challenge winner.  

Engagement was the goal of the Hot Dog Stand Challenge, and vendors across the U.S. saw heaps of it. Over the 60-day campaign, 4,300 participants logged more than 29,000 visits to local hot dog stands, which in turn drove Vienna Beef to a double-digit sales increase over the same, pre-pandemic period in 2019.