It is more spectacle than sport and flies in the face of First Lady Michelle Obama's “Let's Move” initiative to battle childhood obesity, but the world of competitive eating continues to hold its own, with the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 at Coney island continuing to be the crown jewel of the competitive eating circuit. The events draw fans, keep media engaged with the practices of the competitors, has a TV presence and certainly can draw enough eyeballs in the viral space to garnber attention. Now it even has sponsors, as Pepto Bismol joins the mix for this years event. The Pepto sponsor is a great fit, as the brand can sample thousands on site and draw attention to product through a fun viral campaign and other signage opportunities. It is a brand which has the name recognition but can get lost in the shuffle, and doing these tyoe of low cost, high impact sponsorships on what is usually a slow news day makes great sense.
Also this week came news that Old Navy also joined the Coney Island event as an apparel sponsor. Another brand that is known for drumming up offbeat support, it is probably a little more of a stretch for an apparel sponsor to gain brand recognition in competitive eating, unless if course the competitors lose their lunch, in which case the logo on his or her shirt will get some very interesting viral play. Still, buying into the event is probably low risk with a chance at some high reward for an event which probably never saw a sports marketing and brand activation fit when it first started. Now will these sponsorships lead to “tour” creations or will they be one off activities, capitalizing on the weekend and the Nathan's cach. Hard to say and they are probably tests, but worthwhile ones especially for brands that could fit with the positives and negatives of competitive eating and are looking for a low risk, high reward buzz buy.
Regardless, it is a great sell for those looking to bring added value to a signature New York event with global media attention on a slow news day.