The following is the 11th chapter from Peter Nevland’s book, Wiener Dog Marketing. His interview with Roy Williams about the business lessons from the Buda Wiener Dog Races continues from where it left off in Chapter 10.

Peter: Now tell me about the marketing, the marketing of the wiener dog races.

Roy: Right.

Peter: You have chosen a particular course of marketing to let people know about wiener dogs, which they, of course, will love. You know that the wiener dog will always be the wiener dog. You’ve got to sell people, “there will be wiener dogs at the Buda Lions Club annual gathering…”

Roy: It’s real simple.

Peter: How do you decide? How is it that I’m going to tell people the story of the wiener dog?

Roy: Ok. It’s actually, it’s called cheating.

Peter: Yep. I like…

Roy: Cheating. It’s spelled C – H – E – A – T – I – N – G, cheating.

Peter: Spell that one more time.

Roy: C – H – E – A – T – I – N – G.

Peter: Cheating. This is a new concept. Tell me about it.

Roy: Here’s the thing about cheating. Whenever you say, “Ok, I’m going to gamble that I can count on this person being who and what they are.” How big of a risk is that really?

Peter: It’s not a big one. There’s a small risk, because an outside force could come in and corrupt them, pollute them, etc… However you would think that they would respond still as they already are.

Roy: Listen, strangely it takes truly extraordinary circumstances, life altering circumstances, very rare, life-altering circumstances to change a person from who they’ve always been and who they will always continue to be.

Peter: I always say, “even doomsday asteroid death don’t make me shake.”

Roy: There you go.

Roy: So if you say, “Ok, now, how do we cheat? You look, and you calculate the odds, does this business, does this company have what people are already asking for? This is what people already want.

Peter: Ok, but the Buda Lions club. They put on the wiener dog races. It’s your job to tell people about the wiener dog races.

Roy: Simplest thing.

Peter: You have to decide what do I put on the poster.

Roy: Simplest thing in the world.

Peter: What do I put in the radio ads?

Roy: Simplest thing in the world. What was the single biggest thing that happened recently? And you find a movie, the biggest movie of recent months.

Peter: A metaphor?

Roy: Yes.

Peter: A metaphor that people can relate to…

Roy: The first really big one…

Peter: …that has relevance in their life.

Roy: Remember, many, many years ago, you remember Lord of the Rings…

Peter: Mmm, Lord of the Rings

Roy: And it was Frodo Baggins

Peter: Yes. That’s right.

Roy: The very first Lord of the Rings. The public went insane.

Peter: Yes.

Roy: Because J.R.R. Tolkien’s books were being brought to life by an amazing director. And even the most cynical critics said, “wow, this is really true. This is like, he has, Peter Jackson has brought the books to life.”

Peter: Right.

Roy: We already knew that people loved that book. This is not a secret that people loved that book. Lord of the Rings.

Peter: It was another wiener dog.

Roy: Wait a minute. How big of a genius do you have to be to have a poster up that says “Lord of the Wiens”?

Peter: (laughing) right, right.

Roy: And so we came out that year with a big poster that said, “Lord of the Wiens.” And it was a similar poster to Lord of the Rings, perhaps, but instead of the face of Frodo or Gandalf it had the wiener dog face.

Peter: Right.

Roy: So for like twenty years…

Peter: Right.

Roy: …whatever the biggest thing was… Remember, if it didn’t already matter to people I couldn’t make it matter to people. It had to already matter to people.

Peter: Right, right, right, right.

Roy: And so it’s like drafting. Have you ever watched in a two hundred mile an hour race, it’s called drafting?

Peter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ok.

Roy: And so here’s a car going two hundred miles an hour and a car comes up right on its tail.

Peter: And it goes faster.

Roy: And it goes faster, because it doesn’t have to fight the wind.

Peter: That’s right.

Roy: Because the car ahead of it is breaking the wind.

Peter: Mmm. Breaking how much wind?

Roy: It’s breaking wind…

Peter: It’s breaking wind!

Roy: …and you can smell it.

Peter: Ugh. You can smell the fumes. Right up the tailpipe. Sniffin’ it.

Roy: And so all of the sudden, it has all this excess energy, because it doesn’t have to fight the wind. And it whips out to the left or the right and it shoots past the car. It’s called drafting.

Peter: Yeah.

Roy: That’s all we’re doing. We find The Lord of the Rings and make it Lord of the Wiens. That went national on CBS television. Uhhh, young woman, I can give you her name.

Peter: Star Wars. Star Wiens or Wiener Wars?

Roy: Doesn’t matter.

Roy: Every year you find something that’s captured the public’s attention, and you repurpose the proven.

Peter: Ok, but people are going to debate this.

Roy: Why?

Peter: Because… they’re people… and they’re distracted too easily and they can’t see the truth. They’re going to say, “Star Wieners or Wiener Wars.”

Roy: Either one would work.

Peter: Because it relates to… it’s close enough that people will recognize the similarity to the actual big huge movie that the public was captivated by.

Roy: What I’m saying is, if a person thinks that that choice, Star Wieners or Wiener Wars, if they think that choice is what separates success from failure, then they’re too stupid to breathe through their nose.

Peter: But Roy, we’ve already established, we’ve already established. I don’t think they’re too stupid to breathe through their nose. I think they’re maybe not smart and brilliant like you are.

Roy: (protesting)

Peter: I know, I know. But look, people have been making bad decisions for a very long time. And it’s easy when you’re under the pressure of having to make the right decision, you get distracted into arguing about things that won’t make a difference, versus things that will make a difference. And I’m trying to help business owners avoid the arguments about things that won’t make a difference, versus things that will make a difference.

Roy: Here’s the deal. When it comes down to small decisions. A or B will both work. It doesn’t matter. Star Wieners or Wiener Wars will both work, because you’ve found the right metaphor.

Peter: Right.

Roy: You found Star Wars, at this moment. At this moment, in this place, will work.

Peter: If I can connect wiener dogs to Star Wars, I win.

Roy: We win, that’s it. So it doesn’t matter. Pink or blue, doesn’t matter. Choose pink, choose blue, they’ll both work.

Peter: That’s right.

Roy: Does that make sense?

Peter: Ok, yep.

Roy: And so, anybody who says there has to be a right answer and a wrong answer, it’s like, “shut up.” You won when you figured out Star Wars. You figured out Star Wars. Battle over. You can’t screw it up. You can’t screw it up. You’ve already figured out Star Wars is the thing you connect to. And so the strategy is that finding out that Star Wars is the metaphor.

Peter: Right.

Roy: And whenever you say, now, this petty, small, insignificant crap about Star Wieners or Wiener Wars is completely irrelevant.

The Breakdown

On the surface, this chapter seems pretty basic. Find something that has captured the public’s attention before and relate it to your service or product. Wizard of Ads partners call it “Repurposing the Proven.” We don’t suffer from the burden of having to come up with something no one’s come up with before. We’re motivated by the success of our clients. So we look for ways it has been done before that the public loved. Then we find out how to apply that to our clients.

Roy gave the example of relating the wiener dog races to the biggest event of the year. Lord of the Rings became Lord of the Wiens. Then in another year, when the biggest event of the year was Star Wars, he came up with Star Wieners. (Incidentally, in another year where Star Wars was once again the big topic, they came up with Wiener Wars. So picking one or the other didn’t matter, because both were hugely successful).

Let’s look at how to apply that to you. In 2003, Apple needed to demonstrate that you could listen to your favorite music on their new music computer called an iPod. So they chose Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”. Not only had they connected using an iPod to cool sounding music, they also showed black silhouettes of people dancing with bright color backgrounds. This gave the audience the ability to imagine themselves dancing and listening to cool music while listening to an iPod. They didn’t even care that the cords were flying around all over the place. In fact, that made the ad, because it emotionally proved that the iPod would get you so into your music, you would be free to dance no matter what limitations you had. They continued this until 2008, using a myriad of songs from different genres including U2’s Vertigo. It’s no wonder the iPod was the market leader until it was made obsolete by iPhones.

Notice that just like with wiener dog races and Star Wars, the commercials were destined to be a success by the determination of the strategy: choose a popular, cool sounding song and show silhouettes of people rockin’ out to it with an iPod and a colorful background. Incidentally, Steve Jobs wasn’t sure the ads would work since they “didn’t show the product in detail and explain what the iPods did.” ( Apparently showing how your product or service will make someone feel is much more powerful than telling people what it does.

This also works with older songs and movies too, as Golden Grahams demonstrated in the 80’s marrying “Happy Together” by the Turtles to their sugary cereal. In 2002 and 2003 Mitsubishi made “Days Go By” and “Start the Commotion”, old songs that had been relatively successful famous again by having passengers poppin’ and lockin’ while seated in their Eclipse. They merely did what VW had been doing in the 90’s with “Here in My Car”, “Da da da” and several other songs.

This principle of repurposing the proven works with famous movies, songs, events, places, even characters (we’ll go over this in the next chapter). All you have to do is find one aspect of your product or service that you can connect with a feeling or detail of the famous, successful thing in the past. Once you’ve connected the two well, you’ve established a trigger in the mind of the audience any time they see or hear something that reminds them of the famous song/movie/event.

The only time this doesn’t work is when you have a crappy product or service. But then, no advertising in the world can make up for that. In fact, good advertising will only remind the public that your service or product sucks. Good advertising kills a bad business faster than no advertising at all.

1. Write down a famous movie, song or event that you can relate to your business. You want to pick something that’s been hugely successful either now or in the past. It’s usually the first one that pops into your mind. And it doesn’t have to seemingly have anything to do with your product or service.

2. Write down one thing about your product/service/business that’s similar to or opposite from one attribute or feeling caused by the famous event above.

3. Write an ad for your product/service/business using what you’ve written for #1 and #2. Try to keep it to 120 words or less. It might come out well, and it might not. If you don’t think it’s good, that’s ok, new techniques take practice. I’d be happy to give you honest and kind feedback on your ad. Just send it in to

Wiener Dog Marketing:

A Silly Sounding Book for Serious Business Growth

available now on Kindle, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and many other digital sellers…

available June 1st in Hardcover at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many others…

Read the rest of the series:

  1. An Introduction to Wiener Dog Marketing
  2. Wiener Dog Marketing: For the Love of Wiener Dogs
  3. Body of a Sausage: The Way Things Are vs. The Way Things Ought to Be
  4. The Wiener Dog Question: What Can You Count On Not Changing?
  5. Wiener Dog Focus: Helping the Customer vs. Helping Yourself
  6. Wiener Dogs on the Wrong Track: Having the Qualities of Success Without Being a Success
  7. Embrace Your Wiener Dog: Identity, Purpose and Adventure
  8. Becoming a Wiener Dog: What it Takes to Have Enduring Success
  9. Magical Wiener Dogs and Storytellers
  10. Follow the Wiener Dog: How Employees Become Wiener Dogs
  11. Once a Wiener… Repurposing the Proven
  12. The Heart of a Wiener Dog: Character Diamonds
  13. Wiener Dogs Forever: The Power of Crowd Promotion
  14. Are You A Wiener Dog? Last Chance to Commit