Friday, June 28, 2013

Twenty-Year-Old Sausages Are Still Fresh

A coincidental continuation of the food theme on the Sports Biz U blog- the last post about MiLB's #Foodfight contest is followed up with a tribute to Klement's racing sausages. If that name does not ring a bell, you may be more familiar with them as the Milwaukee Brewers racing sausages. Klement's is the brand behind the sausages. The Milwaukee-based company has been serving up sausages since 1956, and the company has gained notoriety over the past 20 years as sponsor of the sausage race at Brewers' games. Today, we think of sponsorship activation requiring sophisticated, often expensive investments to pull off. The long-running success of Klement's racing sausages suggests otherwise.

Keeping it Simple
The concept behind Klement's sausage races is simple- five characters representing different varieties of Klement's sausages race each other during an in-game promotion, running around the perimeter of the field from the left field wall to first base. The original lineup of three sausages has grown to five (Hot Dog and Chorizo have joined Bratwurst, Polish Sausage, and Italian Sausage), but the concept has maintained its simplicity. The simplicity of the sausage races can be traced all the way back to the original idea. Michael Dillon, one of the creators of the sausage race, went to a costume store and bought materials to make the costumes. There is something about seeing people running races in goofy costumes, whether it be mascots or sausages, that gets our attention and connects with them.

Activation as a Brand Builder
The Klement's racing sausages have evolved from props in a promotion to brand characters for Klement's. The five sausage characters appear at events, have bios on the company's website, and have been featured as "Bobbledog" giveaways at Milwaukee Brewers games. Far from being an added expense of sponsorship, Klement's racing sausages have become an integral part of the brand. Should brand managers and their marketing agencies be more strategic in developing activation programs? Could there be opportunities for activation to be a catalyst for launching complementary brand assets like brand spokescharacters? The success of Klement's racing sausages could inspire new ideas for more strategic integration of sponsorship with a firm's branding strategy.

So, happy 20th birthday to Bratwurst, Polish Sausage,and Italian Sausage. Here is how it all began, video from their first race- enjoy.

JS Online - 20 Years of Racing - Sausages, That Is