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Pepto’s Sponsorship of Nathan’s Famous Contest A Winner

Friday, 2 Jul 2010 | 2:26 PM ET
Nathan's Hot Dog Contest
Nathan's Hot Dog Contest

The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contesthas had additional sponsors over time.

Before Takeru Kobayashitook the contest to the next level, it was sponsored by online sportsbook BetWWTS.com. There was Old Milwaukee, Gold’s Mustard and now Heinz.

But this year, IFOCE -- the company that runs the Major League Eating (MLE) circuit and the hot dog eating contest on the Fourth of July — has landed the ultimate sponsor: Pepto Bismol.

“We’re adding another blue chip sponsor,” said Rich Shea, president of the Major League Eating, which now had 84 events that offer nearly $600,000 in prizes for eaters. “Wait, are they blue chip or pink chip?”

Nathan Fox, brand manager for the Procter & Gamble label, says that the Pepto team has been trying to focus its marketing on capitalizing on specific usage occasions, such as the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl, where people tend to indulge too much and need the product.

“Just like salt and ketchup, Pepto is pretty ubiquitous in today’s environment and so our real focus on how we move product is to really pulse our media around occasions where we think consumers really need Pepto and remind them to go out and buy it ahead of time or to just take it out of their medicine cabinet.” Fox said.

Fox said that the company’s research shows that nearly 40 percent of consumers have Pepto in their medicine cabinet, but when the occasion comes, forget they have it. The brand comes in three both solid and liquid form, with the liquid making up the majority (60 percent) of sales.

For the hot dog eating contest, Pepto will have branded Thunderstix and wristbands and integration into the ESPN broadcast.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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