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Frank Talk With ESPN’s Brand Marketing Chief, Seth Ader

In the coming days, 75 people will dress as hot dogs on Sunday Night Baseball, a 30 for 30 will debut Tuesday, and thousands of wieners will "meat" untimely ends on July 4. Could this all be connected somehow?

Here’s an appetizing thought for the start of July 4th week: ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and hot dogs of all sorts!

With Tuesday’s debut of the latest 30 for 30 documentary – “The Good, The Bad, The Hungry,” (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) which chronicles the rivalry between competitive eaters Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut – the ESPN brand marketing team boiled up some pre-first airing integrations for Sunday’s Brave-Mets (7:05 p.m., ESPN) contest.

The Good, The Bad, The Hungry debuts Tuesday, July 2 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. (ESPN Films) CLICK HERE TO EXPAND PDF

In addition to Chestnut attending the game, throwing out the first pitch while eating a hot dog and joining Dave Flemming, Eduardo Perez and Tim Kurkjian in the booth, there will be 75 people dressed in hot dog costumes taking over an entire section at Citi Field.

The SNB stunt and 30 for 30 film are also part of the buildup to ESPN’s exclusive coverage of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest (Thursday, July 4, noon ET, ESPN2), where Chestnut is expected to attempt to break his record of 74 frankfurters and buns eaten in 10 minutes.

ESPN’s Vice President of Brand Marketing, Seth Ader shares secrets of how the, ahem, sausage is getting made:

Was there a secret recipe to creating this campaign?
To be frank, we were in a bit of a pickle when considering how to promote a full-length documentary about competitive eating and the two titans of the sport, Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi. Given the abundance of content in the marketplace, the overarching 30 for 30 strategy is to market in a disruptive manner which allows us to engage with fans on a one-to-one basis. We relished the opportunity to expand our natural partnerships with Sunday Night Baseball, the New York Mets, and the Brooklyn-based Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Seth Ader (Rich Arden/ ESPN Images)

Is there a strategy you employed to shove all the hot dogs down folks’ throats?
Once the idea was conceived and the powers-that-be deemed it kosher, the brand marketing team really got on a roll.

We decided to get all up in fans’ grills to ensure they know the film is airing on ESPN on July 2nd, available on ESPN.com and the ESPN app in the weeks after that, and eventually in the ESPN+ 30 for 30 library. But we do encourage everyone to tune in for the debut to what we think will be an Oscar Weiner-worthy film.

Is this indicative of what Marketing plans to do more of in the future?
We love the hands-on nature of live activations for 30 for 30’s and other ESPN Films. The goal of this kind of event is to genuinely beef up the buzz surrounding our films, especially with the younger demographic. Attention spans move so fast nowadays that we know we have to ketchup to them with our content encased in out-of-the-wrapper activations like this. Having 75 human hot dogs should spice things up perfectly during Sunday Night Baseball.

Watch the Mets vs. Braves Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, and 30 for 30 “The Good, The Bad, The Hungry” Tuesday, July 2, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Takeru Kobayashi (L) and Joey Chestnut (R) have a unique rivalry that is the focus of the next 30 for 30 “The Good, The Bad and The Hungry.” (ESPN Films)
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