Applegate plans to give away more than 100,000 organic beef hot dogs this summer during a tour that will target art fairs, festivals, summer concerts and the like.
The Bridgewater, N.J.-based company will also hand out $100,000 worth of coupons. The tour is aimed at anyone who loves hot dogs but has avoided them because hot dogs are perceived as unhealthy and full of "mystery" ingredients, says Stephen McDonnell, Applegate founder and CEO.
"The Applegate hot dog tour is really our biggest marketing effort thus far," McDonnell tells Marketing Daily. "We've never done anything like this."
Applegate will publicize the tour via a social media push and by identifying strong partnerships to help consumers find out about the tour, he says.
"When you have a product that relies on taste, event marketing, especially sampling, is an integral part of the mix," McDonnell says. "We do a lot of in-store demonstrations, and once people try our food and learn more about us as a company, they become very loyal."
Applegate, the country's leading producer of natural and organic meats and cheeses, will hit the Radio 92.9 EarthFest in Boston on May 21 to give away thousands of organic hot dogs served hot off the grill on the Applegate biofuel tour bus.
"Not all meat that's labeled natural is created equal, and unfortunately, there's a lot of confusion out there," says Chris Ely, co-founder of Applegate and Farmer Liaison. "Our tour is here to clear up the confusion and help people taste the difference. Hot dogs are probably the last food people think about starting on the farm, but for Applegate, that's where real natural food starts."
Visitors can learn about the differences between natural, organic and conventional meat, and kids can create and play on an innovative play structure called Imagination Playground, a breakthrough play space concept designed to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play, dreaming and exploration.
As part of the tour, Applegate has partnered with public art nonprofit Albus Cavus. Tour visitors will be encouraged to share their food stories in different art media with the encouragement and direction of Albus Cavus artists. The collection of art "stories" will then be assembled into a mural at the end of the tour and donated.
In addition to the official tour stops, Applegate will surprise hometown heroes -- people who sustain the community -- with a free lunch. People can visit www.applegate.com to nominate hometown heroes who often don't get the kudos they deserve.
The Applegate tour started in early May near Washington, D.C. at the Sweetlife Festival, an annual celebration of music, wholesome food, and thoughtful living. After EarthFest, the tour will move on to neighborhood festivals in the New York City area, various cities in the Midwest and end in Chicago at Kidzapalooza.