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Roadtrip! A Year of Brand Building and Self Discovery Inside the Wienermobile

With the help of a 27-foot-long hot dog on wheels, KWHS is launching a new Internship of the Month column. We will regularly feature profiles of different types of internships and learning opportunities that help expose high school students to new skills, business concepts and the world of work.

Why internships? By most accounts, being able to step into a job part-time and experience the daily responsibilities and workplace culture is a great way to figure out what you want to do with your life. You’re either going to love your internship experience – or you’re going to hate it. Either way, it will shape the decisions you make in the future. 

Don’t just take our word for it. KWHS did a video interview with Antione Gray, a then-senior at the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts & Sciences who had spent his summer interning for a start-up social justice firm in New York City. This is Gray’s perspective on the power of internships: “Internships have been very, very useful,” he said. “One, I think that an internship is a great way to build an authentic network. So for me, networking is more than just chatting people up at a mixer and collecting business cards and hoping that someone responds to your follow-up email. The people that you intern with, your friends, they can vouch for your character, and your bosses and supervisors can vouch for the quality of your work and your work ethic…Secondly, interning gives you a good chance at introspection — seeing what you like, what kind of work you like, and what kind of environment you like being in. And it’s easy to figure out what you don’t want to do, because you remember the bad experiences more than the good ones… At the end of the day, it will come together somewhere along the line for you to find work that you’re really passionate about.”

And now, a ride on Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile.

Angela Bumstead, 24, has a very cool job title for her first real position in the corporate world. She is the Wienermobile coordinator for Kraft Heinz in Madison, Wisconsin. Bumstead’s experiential marketing skills needed for the job were developed in a unique way – when she spent a year after her graduation from the University of Texas at Austin, as a hotdogger representing the famous Oscar Mayer foods brand. Her mission? To spend 365 days co-piloting a 27-foot-long hot dog on wheels around the country, visiting parades, fairs, cars shows and all kinds of events to meet the locals and talk up the Oscar Mayer brand.

“As we like to say in the hotdogger world, I cut the mustard. It was the best year of my life,” says Bumstead, who was chosen as a 2015 hotdogger from some 1,500 applicants vying for the coveted year-long gig, which, while temporary, does come with a salary. Each year, 12 hotdoggers – typically college seniors who are interested in marketing, public relations and advertising — travel in teams of two in six different Wienermobiles (the Wienerfleet) that navigate to all corners of the U.S. “It was an incredible growth experience,” adds Bumstead, who credits her love of fried Oscar Mayer bologna sandwiches as a child and her loyalty to Texas Athletics as a competitive college rower for helping her to land her seat in the Wienermobile.

Now, Bumstead gets to interview hot-dogger candidates and let them know what a year cruising around in a giant hotdog is really like. No, you don’t get to eat tons of hot dogs. But you do build life skills and get to know yourself a whole lot better.

Here are Bumstead’s main takeaways from her hotdogger roadtrip:

The Almighty Brand. The best way to understand the strong influence of an iconic brand like Oscar Mayer, which has been around since 1883, is to serve as the face of that brand 24/7. You quickly become a brand specialist, a valuable skill set in the marketing industry. Bumstead recalls countless ‘I remember when’ moments during her year, when people would tell her about the first time they saw the Wienermobile (launched in 1936) or the first time they got a Wiener Whistle, a keepsake in the shape of a Wienermobile. “The Wienermobile was created during the Great Depression when people didn’t trust the meat industry, and Oscar Mayer made his brand trustworthy,” notes Bumstead, who traveled to a total of 32 states and even got to shoot a video with Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns Kraft Heinz. “The brand is a lot about family and nostalgia, and it brings people back to their childhood. People just connect the Wienermobile with happiness. Hotdoggers are in charge of creating those magical moments for people that they’ll remember forever. We want to keep the brand history rich.”

Lots of Talking, and Even More Listening. Bumstead admits that the hotdogger way is to just “talk and talk and talk.” After all, you are face to face with 2,000 to 10,000 people per week. She’s quick to point out, however, that the gift of the gab is probably not the most useful quality for this position. “I learned that it’s so valuable and enriching to be interested, rather than interesting,” says Bumstead, who appreciates the role of social media, but also deeply believes in the importance of offline connections. “When you’re talking to someone, you always want to make sure you’re invested in their story and asking them questions. You don’t just want to be this robot who keeps talking.” Bumstead recalls meeting a woman on the road who was clamoring for a spin in the Wienermobile, a common request as hotdoggers make their rounds. Bumstead couldn’t always accommodate wannabe co-pilots, but in this case she took the time to ask questions. Turns out, the woman had a tiny Wienermobile charm inside her locket, because a ride had long been on her bucket list. “I brought her inside and gave her a ride around,” says Bumstead. “She was crying and face timing her family. I will never forget her excitement and emotions. It’s fulfilling to have those interactions with other people and to learn from them.”

Finding You. While it may seem impossible to take some time for self reflection when you’re constantly surrounded by crowds and making pitches to radio and TV stations and local newspapers with your Oscar Mayer message, Bumstead stresses that the hotdogger position is a time of true self-discovery. “You’re basically managing your own PR firm on wheels, and you have so much autonomy,” says Bumstead. “As a hotdogger, you wear so many different hats, from event planning, to promotions to communicating with people every single day. People figure out their niche. They figure out what they excel at and what they need to work on.” In the end, that’s what internships are all about – personal growth and blazing your path forward.

Angela Bumstead learned to be both interested and interesting during her year as a hotdogger.
Angela Bumstead learned to be both interested and interesting during her year as a hotdogger.

Conversation Starters

What is an internship and why is it valuable? Have you had one? Share your experience in the comments section of this article.

What does it mean to be a brand specialist? How did Angela Bumstead develop skills in this area during her year in the Wienermobile?

What makes a brand iconic? Why do you think people feel such an emotional connection to the Oscar Mayer brand?

16 thoughts on “Roadtrip! A Year of Brand Building and Self Discovery Inside the Wienermobile

  1. Internships are opportunities given by a company to someone who wants some basic experience/training in a career field of their choice. They are valuable as they give one insight in to the day-to-day activities of their preferred career. Have I myself taken part in a internship/, sadly no, but that would be a fun thing to take part of someday.
    Being a Brand Specialist means that you specialize in enhancing the image & likeness of a certain brand. Angela developed these skills by getting used to talking to hundreds or thousands of people, as well as utilizing social media to get the message out there to help out Oscar Meyer.
    Iconic brands are brands that don’t need much explanation when talking about them, they are easily recognizable and synonymous with a certain kind of product. In the case of Oscar Meyer, it is years upon years of being one of the most reliable products in the hot dog industry, giving great flavor to those who buy their products and that helps people associate the name “Oscar Meyer” with a hod dog. PS: It helped my family decide on the name of our Dachshund, which just so happens to be: “Oscar Meyer” Takacs.

  2. An internship is a opportunity to see how working for a certain companies is like and see how the companies and their brand is itself. I have never had an internship at a company, however I’m looking forward to my first internship experience. Hopefully that experience will be like this one in the article. Being a Brand Specialist means that you specialize in enhancing the image & likeness of a certain brand. Angela developed these skills by getting used to talking to hundreds or thousands of people, as well as utilizing social media to get the message out there to help out Oscar Meyer. An iconic brand is a brand that everyone knows about. I think an iconic brand is a leading company that influences other companies like them to change their ways of doing things to try and match what that iconic brand is doing. Oscar Myer has been a hot dog brand sold all over the country to since hot dogs became invented. In the dog mobile it clearly brought people emotion seeing their favorite brand of hot dogs in a shape of a car.

  3. An intership is the work experience that an individual who is a student may receive from going to a business and learning everything it has to offer without a pay. I have never done an internship, but I would really think of it as an incredible opportunity for me to do in the future. Due to the fact, that I would like to learn everything about a business in order to have that knowledge which I can apply in the future.
    A brand specialist is an employee that is within the marketing field, who develops how other individuals may view the company’s services or goods. Angela developed
    these skills by putting herself out there and getting used to talking to different kinds of people. Similarly, she did as well used social media which is one of the most recent and effective ways of promoting anything these days. Yet, she knows that media as well as personal connections are important.
    What makes a brand ionic is if it develops a unique and special kind of promotion that reminds and makes people identify their brand with. People feel a special connection with the Oscar Mayer brand because it has assure of providing the image
    of the Oscar Mayer company being connected to the hot dog industry. Somebody can immediately say “hot dog” and that will come to their mind. It has for ever being within the society as a reliable family company that sells the hot dog product. Now, it has advanced to create a mobile that since it is the shape of a hot dog gets everyone excited and in the hope of taking pictures with it making it unique.

  4. An internship is when someone works part-time without pay to gain experience in a specific work field. An internship is valuable because you gain experience, and you are able to figure out what type of work you like to do. I have never had an internship.
    Being a brand-specialist means that you try to encourage a certain way for people to think about your brand. Angela developed these skills by talking to many people and reaching out to others on social media.
    A brand is iconic if it has a unique style of marketing and advertising that reminds people of their product. I think people feel such a strong emotional connection to Oscar Meyer because it has been around for generations, and many people have grown to automatically think of them when they hear “hot dog”. Oscar Meyer is also a very unique brand, causing people to indentify with them.

  5. What is an internship and why is it valuable? Have you had one? Share your experience in the comments section of this article.
    An internship is the position of a student or trainee who works in an organization, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification. It is valuable because it provides real life experience and exposure. It is an opportunity to learn more about myself. It gives me a chance to get connected and develop my professional network. It is a great transition to working full time.
    What does it mean to be a brand specialist? How did Angela Bumstead develop skills in this area during her year in the Wienermobile?
    A brand specialist is a management-level employee who works with or within a marketing team. They help “define the way that consumers think about a company’s goods or services; this can involve consistency of logos and colors, focused advertising spaces, event sponsorships, and other approaches.” Bumstead sad “I learned that it’s so valuable and enriching to be interested, rather than interesting,” “When you’re talking to someone, you always want to make sure you’re invested in their story and asking them questions. You don’t just want to be this robot who keeps talking.”
    What makes a brand iconic? Why do you think people feel such an emotional connection to the Oscar Mayer brand?
    A brand is iconic if it has these characteristics. The brand must have a purpose beyond money; a cause to which others can rally, provide a brand experience that stands out and emotional and rational benefits, be a symbol of excellence to which others aspire and have admirers. I believe people have such an emotional connection to the Oscar Mayer brand because of their advertising and social events everyone can attend. The people’s ability to connect to the brand provokes this emotional connection.

  6. What is an internship and why is it valuable? Have you had one? Share your experience in the comments section of this article.
    * An internship is a young person that wants to work on the area of that business but needs to learn how to do it or they just want experience on the area, sometimes they don’t get paid. I never had one.
    What does it mean to be a brand specialist? How did Angela Bumstead develop skills in this area during her year in the Wienermobile?
    * A brand specialist is someone who really knows about the brand and what it is about. You cannot build a brand without knowing the reason for it and what are you going to do. She developed her skills in that area by talking to people, working and learning about that area and brand.
    What makes a brand iconic? Why do you think people feel such an emotional connection to the Oscar Mayer brand?
    * What makes a brand iconic is a idea of brand that no one has and also the reason behind the name of the brand and the purpose of the brand. People feel such an emotional connection to the Oscar Mayer brand because it is an unique brand and a idea that we have never seen before.

  7. 1. An internship is an opportunity to gain experience from a trade, but usually not as a full contract and not always with a salary. An internship is valuable because it gives a young person a chance to gain experience in the workplace they are interning in and get a feel for what the demands and the requirements for a job are, both mentally and physically. I have not had an internship yet.

    2. Being a brand specialist means improving and maintaining good public opinion of the brand and finding ways to promote it in way that catches the customers’ eyes and makes them come back for more. Angela Bumstead developed skills in being a brand specialist during her year in the Wienermobile by talking to the hundreds people in the crowds that gathered around the Wienermobile, and by spreading the message through social media.

    3. A brand is made iconic through being recognized by a large amount of people as a good brand, and keeping that success continued for very long periods of time. For example Coca-Cola is an iconic brand that continues to have success today. I think people feel an emotional connection to the Oscar Mayer brand because of how he gained the peoples’ trust during rough times like the Great Depression. It has also proven itself as a trust worthy brand that many people have come to love.

  8. An internship is when you get a chance to experience a job part-time and see what the job is like. It can be valuable because in an internship, you see if you enjoy that type of career and if that type of job is right for you.
    To be a brand specialist, the company has to have a reputation by becoming popular overtime. To develop these skills, Angela Bumstead travelled around the country, and interacted with many people. She also represented the brand and spread it around the country on the Wienermobile.
    An iconic brand is a brand that most people have heard of because of something unique in the company’s advertising. I think people feel such an emotional connection to the Oscar Mayer brand because it’s been around for so long and has had a lot of success around the country, so people might have become emotional when they saw the Wienermobile in person.

  9. an internship is when you get an opportunity to experience a job and see how people do their jobs. It is valuable because you can experience a job first hand.
    To be a brand specialist, the company has to have a reputation and become popular over it’s time span. Angela Bumstead has traveled all around the country, and she has interacted with many people. She also represented the brand.
    An iconic brand is a brand that most people have heard of.

  10. An internship is a non-paying job given by companies to experience that job or work of area. This is a valuable opportunity because it shows the person how the company works and shows how difficult that position is. A brand specialist is when the brand and the people around that brand earn a reputation and those people are what are the heart and soul of that company. Angela Bumstead developed this skill in the Weinermobile by creating the Weinermobile and people were filled with happiness and never had a bad time going there. What makes a brand iconic is how well known that company or brand. People have an emotional connection with the Oscar Mayer brand because maybe it was the only food they ate when they were young or maybe the food made them not feel depressed, but become happy

  11. an Internship is an opportunity given by a company to someone who wants some basic experience on the company or the career that the company supports, an internship can consist on activities of the career. I haven’t taken any internship yet, but it’s something in my bucket list for sure.

    a Brand Specialist is a person that is an specialist in enhancing the image of a brand or company. Angela formed these skills by talking to hundreds of people, as well as using social media to spread the message to help Oscar Meyer.

    Iconic brands are the brands that don’t need an explanation when they talking about them because they are very popular and everyone probably knows it or have heard of it, Talking about Oscar Meyer, year after year this one of the most reliable company in the hot dog world.

  12. An internship is when a student works on a company, sometimes for free, to gain work experience or qualification, I myself have never had an internship, but I plan on having one next summer. A brand specialist helps look at the company as a whole, helping it improve in certain aspects on making a successful brand. She developed skills by traveling around the world and interacting with people, spreading a good message about the brand. A brand is considered iconic when it does something different, or does something really well, Oscar Mayer is very unique because of the weinermobile, which makes it stand out from other brands and makes it iconic

    1. An intership is an opportunity given by a company to someone that wants basic experience on the company or the career that it support. I havent taken any intership yet but its something that is in my bucket list for sure.

      To be a brand specialist, the company has to have a reputation and become popular over it’s time span. Angela Bumstead has traveled all around the country, and she has interacted with many people. She also represented the brand.

      A brand is made iconic through being recognized by a large amount of people as a good brand, and keeping that success continued for very long periods of time. For example Coca-Cola is an iconic brand that continues to have success today. I think people feel an emotional connection to the Oscar Mayer brand because of how he gained the peoples’ trust during rough times like the Great Depression. It has also proven itself as a trust worthy brand that many people have come to love.

  13. Internships are opportunities given by a company to someone who wants some basic experience/training in a career field of their choice. They are valuable as they give one insight in to the day-to-day activities of their preferred career. I’ve never been part of an intership.
    2.Being a Brand Specialist means that you specialize in enhancing the image & likeness of a certain brand. Angela developed these skills by getting used to talking to hundreds or thousands of people, as well as utilizing social media to get the message out there to help out Oscar Meyer.
    3.Iconic brands are brands that don’t need much explanation when talking about them, they are easily recognizable and synonymous with a certain kind of product. In the case of Oscar Meyer, it is years upon years of being one of the most reliable products in the hot dog industry, giving great flavor to those who buy their products and that helps people associate the name. Also they are good hotdogs

  14. Internships are valuable to a person because they can teach one many skills that can help them in the real world. In order to prosper and do good in the working world it’s important to try internships, not only can you make some money but you can try out different fields of work and see which you like better.

  15. Internships are a good way for the intern to get a feel for the job they will be doing and for the employer to get a good look at what the employee can offer. Internships also give lots of insight to the worker and really let them get a feel for the job they hope to aspire.Internships also are a good way for people to really find what they want to do in life instead of taking on a job they don’t like. Even though not all internships are paid they are still a great way to get your foot in the door and your name out there.

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