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A Surprisingly Diabolical Marketing Strategy: Flip Your Competitor’s Brand Spokesperson

Joey Chestnut is about as modern of an American hero as you can imagine. He is a household name for being the 16-time champion of Nathan’s hot dog eating competition. Nathan’s even considered him an unofficial brand spokesperson … until they found out he took a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods to promote their vegan hot dogs. Now he’s banned from the competition unless he renounces his allegiance with the vegan dogs.

The whole media firestorm is generating some brilliant PR for Impossible Foods at Nathan’s expense. This same week, I read a story about how Qualcomm enlisted the help of Justin Long, the actor who portrayed Apple’s Macintosh computers in the famous “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” series of ads. Now he’s going to be talking about how great PCs are.

Both are perfect illustrations of the dangers for any brand in having a spokesperson without locking them into a long-term non-compete agreement. Eventually, you’re just setting them up to be perfect flipped spokespeople for a competitor. State Farm, are you seeing this? Time to lock down Jake on an air-tight non-compete.

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In addition to Non-Obvious Thinking, Rohit is the author of 10 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

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