When Nolan Ryan Beef made Kroger their exclusive retailer, they asked us to help generate awareness for this partnership while driving customers to Kroger stores to buy beef. With a limited marketing budget, we had to get creative if we were going to make a splash in a market the size of the DFW Metroplex. Luckily, “getting creative” is kind of our thing.
If there’s anything more creative than pairing up NOLAN RYAN Beef and the Texas Rangers, we don’t know what it is. So instead of sinking their marketing dollars into traditional advertising media, we recommended that they pursue a sponsorship with the Texas Rangers. They didn’t have the budget to be a top sponsor in the Ballpark, but we helped them make the most of what they could afford.
With Nolan Ryan Beef as the official beef sponsor of the Texas Rangers, we felt that someone needed to be the official spokesman of Nolan Ryan Beef. Enter Howdy the Hot Dog. Born from a dry erase marker and a window, this guy could be seen everywhere you looked in the Ballpark: concession stand signage, hawker boxes, Jumbotron and more. We even helped design an entire concession stand. We made it virtually impossible to miss Nolan Ryan Beef.
In the first year of the sponsorship, the Texas Rangers sold more hot dogs than any other ballpark in Major League Baseball. Nolan Ryan Beef doubled their sales with Kroger and even saw a spike in sales in their online direct sales. Answering the question, what’s more American than hot dogs and baseball? Cartoon hot dogs and baseball.
Billboard creative for Nolan Ryan Beef and Texas Burger.
It’s not every day you get to work with the presidents of TWO different Major League Baseball teams, but on this special day our agency had the great opportunity to hang out with the entire Ryan family at their ranch to shoot this TV spot for Nolan Ryan Beef. We can’t say enough about the hospitality and kindness of the entire Ryan family, it was truly a project I will never forget working on.
An overview of the spot:
Texas Rangers president and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan faces off with his son, Reid Ryan, president of the Houston Astros, to see who is the master of the grill. In the end, Dad knows best, but the entire Ryan family wins and enjoys a family picnic featuring Nolan Ryan Beef.
Now, putting barbecue sauce on the finest beef in the land may seem like sacrilege, but if Nolan Ryan says it’s okay, it is. And if Nolan Ryan puts his name on a barbecue sauce? You know that’s good, too. Okay, technically we put Nolan Ryan’s name on a barbecue sauce, but only because he told us to.
Happy Friday, everyone. And to the Rangers fans among you, happy Home Opener Day as well.
This season is particularly exciting for us because one of our clients, Nolan Ryan’s Beef, is beginning their reign as official beef and hot dog sponsor of the Texas Rangers. While this probably isn’t the most shocking news you’ve heard all week, it does mean you can look forward to some pretty tasty food at the ballpark this year.
It’s been a scramble to get everything done in time for today’s game, but it’s also been a lot of fun. One of our first assignments was to create a ten-second jumbotron animation to promote dollar dog nights. Now, to be fair, dollar dogs kind of sell themselves. Apparently, senior designer Charlie Howlett recognized this and chose to use it to his advantage.
Everyone, meet Howdy, the official Hot Dog of Nolan Ryan’s Beef. Be sure to keep an eye out for him next time you’re at the ballpark.
Recently, I caught up with Charlie outside the Schaefer men’s room to see what he had to say about creating a new American icon.
Scott: So Charlie, what do you have to say about creating a new American icon?
Charlie: I can only hope he becomes an American icon.
S: You’re being too modest. So how did Howdy come about?
C: It was pretty natural, actually.
S: Care to expand on that?
C: Well, [creative director] Todd and I got the assignment and decided we needed to create a character – a walking hot dog. So I sketched him out on the window with a dry erase marker and we knew we were onto something special.
S: Were you worried the client wouldn’t go for him?
C: We always hope that clients will find the humor…
S: Slow down, I can’t type that fast.
C: Well, you should record it. That’s what real journalists do.
S: I’m not a real journalist, Charlie.
C: Fine. We. Always. Hope…
S: Stop it.
C: (laughs) We always hope clients will find the humor in what we do. Luckily, the NRB folks loved it.
S: So how did we land on the name Howdy?
C: We had been tossing some names around, but it was the client who suggested “Howdy.” That’s when we knew they loved him as much as we did. (pauses) We thought he had legs before…
C: …but that’s when we knew he could really run.
S: (groans louder)
C: That’s the truth, Scott. That’s how it happened.
S: Sure it is. Anything else?
C: Actually, seeing Howdy helped my (3-year-old) son get a better idea of what I do all day.
S: Well, not all day, but that’s cool. So is he a fan of Howdy?
C: He is.
S: That’s how you know you nailed it. Well, thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Charlie.
C: My pleasure, Scott. I’m going to go get a hot dog. It’s Opening Day, you know.
S: I did know that. That’s what this blog is about.
C: So are you going to take me out to the ballgame? You know, take me out to the crowd?
S: Okay, I think we’re done here.