Wish no longer: Wienermobile comes to games

Kraft Foods helped to make Oscar Mayer the official hot dog of MU athletics.
Friday, July 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:25 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This year at MU football and basketball games, you will hear the high-pitched toot-toot of a Wienerwhistle: Oscar Mayer is now the official hot dog of MU athletics.

John Felver, senior account executive with Mizzou Sports Properties, a private company that contracts with the university, said the company was looking to make more money for MU. The arrangement is part of a larger consumer promotion deal with Kraft Foods, which owns Oscar Mayer.

Felver said MU athletics will buy hot dogs at a negotiated rate and Kraft will pay a certain amount for advertising in order to be tagged “official hot dog of MU athletics.” He said Kraft paid a “high five-figure number” for the deal.

Felver said MU will save money, because Mizzou Sports Properties negotiated the hot dogs at a lower rate. MU used to serve Ball Park hot dogs.

He said there was already a relationship between MU athletics and Kraft Foods because of promotions at Columbia-area grocery stores. The city is home to a manufacturing plant, Kraft Foods Columbia, a factor that helped fuel the deal.

“We try to keep things local or Missouri-based to keep company dollars in the state,” Felver said.

Mike Bokarae, senior customer business manager for Kraft Foods in Kansas City, said this arrangement is good for the area’s grocers as well. He said grocery stores get excited about MU athletics. The tie-ins created by the deal deal with the university will help drive business for these stores.

“In mid-Missouri, MU athletics is king,” Bokarae said.

He said the arrangement will help spread customer good will, because they might eat the hot dogs at a game and then see the product in a grocery store, where there will be reminders that Oscar Mayer is the official hot dog of MU athletics. He said research shows that college athletics fans are among the most loyal and therefore might buy Oscar Mayer hot dogs at the store simply because of the MU link.

Felver said Kraft is now working out the logistics of the deal — for example, whether the hot dogs will come from the local plant and when the Wienermobile, with its many thousands of tiny whistle toys, will come to games. The mobile was in MU’s homecoming parade last October. Bokarae said with the new arrangement, the Wienermobile can come into the stadium.

“We hope to get the Wienermobile at one or more games,” Felver said. Oscar Mayer’s Web site says the Wienermobile can hold 11,000 Wienerwhistles.

During football season, Oscar Mayer will have signs in the concession stands and on the video board in Memorial Stadium. Felver said they plan to use the new ribbon board in Paige Sports Arena during basketball season for advertising.

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