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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Hot Dogs Are Not A Contest

Finalist in Real Time Response

Entered in Humor


In 2023, Heinz launched its first-ever global platform: Heinz inspires irrational love. The platform spotlights real stories of the irrational lengths people go for Heinz – from always carrying Heinz packets in their purses and cars, putting Heinz on everything from ice cream to sushi, to even packing suitcases of Heinz products to take across international borders. 

Objective: With the new platform established, our task was to spark irrational love on social media during the brand’s most profitable season: grilling season.

After intensive netnographic studies/listening, we uncovered an irrational behavior worth spotlighting.

Insight: For Heinz fans, if it’s grilled food without Heinz, it’s a travesty worth protesting.

Protesting the Hot Dog Eating Contest

There’s only one summer grilling institution in America that doesn’t feature any Heinz: the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. There, hot dogs are disgustingly dunked in water and swallowed whole. As a champion of eating hot dogs the right way (with love, respect, and Heinz condiments), we had to do something about the gross mistreatment of hundreds of hot dogs.

The Idea: Hot Dogs Are Not a Contest!

A movement to protest the gross mistreatment of hot dogs and encourage everyone to eat hot dogs with love and respect, and Heinz condiments.

Strategy and Execution

As a brand connecting to the next generation, it was imperative that the brand’s charming, witty, and young-at-heart personality came across our channels. Everything we did throughout the campaign was filtered through a self-serious, dry tone – one that we knew would resonate with Gen-Z. 

Casting and world building

As we were creating a movement, we took inspiration from political organizations and built two quintessential tropes into our campaign: 1) an irrational, charismatic leader and 2) a non-profit organization with an overtly logical name that resulted in an even more complicated acronym.

So we enlisted TikTok comedian, Andrew Rousso, to play our charismatic, irrational hot dog activist and gave him a new alias: Francis Weiner. Weiner led the movement through a passionate, yet underfunded NGO, CFABHD: “Condiments For A Better Hot Dog”, which is hard to pronounce and remember. With these two tenets in place, we were ready to start an irrational conversation.

Kicking off the movement

To kick off the movement, Weiner took over the Heinz Instagram and TikTok channels. Emboldened with a platform full of irrational fans, he launched a manifesto video to vehemently protest the hot dog eating contest while drawing sympathy for his underfunded NGO. Successfully radicalizing Heinz fans to fight for hot dog rights, he then posted a series of 5 more videos, shedding light on critical topics such as “what do hot dogs dream of” and “POV: you’re a hotdog” to further drive buzz for the movement.

Protesting the contest

On July 4th, Weiner rallied New Yorkers in Coney Island to stand up against the mistreatment of hot dogs during the contest. Managing to scrap funds together, he purchased an airplane flyover along the beach and boardwalk which stated, “HOT DOGS ARE NOT A CONTEST!”. Furthermore, the movement was given legitimacy with the CFABHD team wielding cardboard signs and passing out pamphlets and swag. 

Radicalizing a former hot dog eating champion

With the momentum Weiner built on the 4th of July, CFABHD enlisted the help of Takeru Kobayashi, the Godfather of Competitive Eating and six-time champion of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Through the influence of the campaign, Kobayashi publicly demanded that hot dogs be treated with respect, and took an oath to eat only hot dogs with Heinz – swearing off the competition altogether. In partnership with Heinz, Kobayashi then offered losing contestants a redemption challenge – $10,000 to simply eat a hot dog with Heinz condiments on camera, matching Nathan's prize money 100%.

Crowning the true winner

Minutes after Kobayashi’s post, Geoffrey Esper (the runner-up having eaten 49 hot dogs) shared a video of himself eating a hot dog the right way: dressed in delicious Heinz condiments – ultimately winning the Heinz $10,000 Redemption Challenge and, most importantly, reminding people everywhere that if it’s hot dogs, it has to be Heinz.


The campaign was a hit across social. In just four weeks, the campaign had garnered 3.9M PR impressions, more than 40k engagements, and beat VCR benchmarks by 47X. 

Fans not only resonated with the movement, they joined in the conversation keeping with the irrational tone of the campaign.

And most importantly, the campaign led to a meaningful real-time moment: rewarding Geoffrey Esper $10,000 for eating a hot dog the right way – with Heinz condiments.


Video for Hot Dogs Are Not A Contest

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Wieden+Kennedy New York, Heinz


Entry Credits