Ball Park connects with influencers at SXSW

A partnership with Rachael Ray helped Ball Park Brand drive awareness of its new Park's Finest premium hot dogs during SXSW.

Client: Ball Park Brand (Chicago)
: MWW (New York)
Park’s Finest Launch at Rachael Ray’s Feedback
: March 2014
: $300,000 – $400,000

A partnership with Rachael Ray helped Ball Park Brand drive awareness of its new Park’s Finest premium hot dogs during SXSW.

MWW, which is AOR for several brands owned by Hillshire Brands, helped conceive and execute the campaign.

"We wanted to elevate awareness ahead of the key grilling season and give consumers a sneak peek to drive excitement before our April 14 national marketing launch," says Ashley La Croix, senior manager of communications for Hillshire Brands.

"The campaign was about generating attention in a powerful, meaningful, memorable way while also getting the product in hands and mouths of influencers, consumers, and media," says agency VP of consumer lifestyle marketing Lindsey Winkler.

Ray hosts the Feedback festival, which celebrates food and music, during SXSW. Feedback at Stubb’s BBQ, which was open to the public, was held March 15. Feedback House events were held at a private residence March 13 to 15.

"It was key to associate Ball Park and Park’s Finest with something that is culturally relevant to our consumers," La Croix explains. "Feedback at SXSW was a nice fit. The Feedback partnership provided one-on-one engagement with influencers and consumers. [It also gave us] an authentic link between the premium nature of Park’s Finest, the people with whom we were connecting, and the location in which we connected with them."

Social media activations and media and blogger relations drove engagement and broader awareness.

Key food and men’s and women’s lifestyle influencers – primarily journalists and bloggers – were invited to Feedback House events.

Various bands performed live and grilled-to-order Park’s Finest were served in a branded patio lounge area.

A Ball Park "grill master" gave lessons in pairing flavors of Park’s Finest with Blue Moon beers (Blue Moon was a partner for these events) and in choosing toppings to enhance Park’s Finest flavors.

Feedback House attendees who posted photos on Instagram with the hashtag #MakeItFinest got free printed images onsite. Hashtagged photos were also streamed live on digital screens. As photos picked up likes and shares, they increased in size on the screens.

Musicians including Cee Lo Green and Blondie performed on a branded stage at the March 15 Stubb’s event. A special Park’s Finest recipe created by Ray was served. Samples were given to people waiting on line to get into the venue.

People who tweeted @BallParkBrand using the hashtag #MakeItFinest were entered to win a VIP experience that included immediate entrance into the Stubb’s event and access to a branded VIP area with dedicated wait staff.

The contest was promoted through traditional and social media outreach, to Feedback House guests, on branded hot dog wrappers and on t-shirts worn by team members serving hot dogs to people waiting in line at Stubbs.

La Croix says sales of Park’s Finest exceeded expectations April to June. 

More than 220 earned stories ran in outlets such as, AP, The Daily Meal, US Weekly,, and the Male Standard.

Twenty-three million impressions were garnered on Twitter between March 13 and 16 (3.7 million impressions from consumer mentions and 19.3 million impressions from influencer mentions)

About 640 hashtagged photos were posted to Instagram, reaching an audience of approximately 150,000.

The team reports sentiment in traditional media coverage was 100% positive, and sentiment in social media mentions was 99% positive, 1% neutral.

Six thousand one hundred people attended the events. About 11,000 Park’s Finest hot dog samples were served across both venues.

Ongoing promotion of Park’s Finest is the brand’s main priority this summer. A new consumer program supporting Park’s Finest is scheduled to launch in August.

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