Social Media

How a Hot Dog Eating Legend Can Inspire Breakthrough Work [SXSW]

March 17, 2015

Our SXSW ambassadors have spent the past few days attending sessions and finding inspiration in some unlikely places. The below post is a first-hand account from one of our brand ambassadors, Alden Millar (Social Publicist – Influencer Marketing at 360i), on a talk he discovered in Austin and found truly inspirational.


SXSW is full of hidden gems – interesting people, panels and happenings. While waiting for a panel to begin on Saturday, I stumbled upon author Mike Michalowicz’s talk entitled “Profit First: How To Become Permanently Profitable.” At first glance this might not seem like the most relevant topic for digital marketers, however the takeaway was quite inspiring.

Mike opened the panel by talking about social axioms – statements or propositions that are regarded as being established, accepted or self-evidently true. As a society, we are bound by social axioms so long as we accept things for the way they are. But what happens when you challenge the norm?

In 2000, the record for the most hot dogs eaten in 12 minutes at Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest was 25. That’s an impressive number when you think about consuming a hot dog every 30 seconds. At the time, the common strategy to win was plain and simple: shove as many hot dogs in your mouth as fast as possible. There didn’t seem to be any other way to approach the feat, and people couldn’t imagine the record getting any higher.

Enter rookie contestant, Takeru Kobayashi. In his debut, Kobayashi downed 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes and destroyed the record previously set. How did he do it you might ask? Kobayashi studied different eating techniques and found that if hot dogs are broken into smaller pieces and the buns dipped in water, the human body can actually consume a whole lot more. Kobayashi approached the contest in a new, innovative way in order to achieve what was previously thought to be impossible.

As marketers, we are constantly thinking of new and innovative ideas to help solve our business objectives, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of containing thinking within the boundaries of socially accepted axioms. GIFs, for example, have become an expression of choice for many over the past few years and often fit well into branded content strategies. The formula for GIFs is clearly working well, so why tinker with it, right? Because 3D GIFs are even more awesome, and have given content creators and brands a new way to engage with their communities.

When thinking through your next idea or campaign, don’t let a social axiom stand in the way. Dare to challenge the norm and redefine how to approach a common digital behavior.

Read more from the 360i team at SXSW by following hashtag #Sx360i on Twitter and on the 360i blog.

Cover photo via WSJ