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The 10 best marketing stunts ever!

November 26, 2008

2. Nathan's Doc-Approved Dogs

Nathan's Famous is arguably the nation's best known hot dog chain, all grown from a single restaurant in New York's Coney Island. But it wasn't always that way.

When immigrant Nathan Handwerker, an employee at the very successful Coney Island fast food eatery Feltman's, went out on his own and opened a competitor, he had problems. First, he tried to undercut his old boss on price, but only succeeded in making customers skeptical of the quality.

Next, he tried hiring bums to stand around and make his place look busy, but the public saw through that too. Next, depending on which version of the story is to believed, he either had the bums dress as doctors, or in the more believable and widely offered version, simply offered free food to doctors and nurses when in uniform, which made sense given the proximity of hospitals.

Either way, the public quickly came to identify Nathan's with medical professionals, an association Nathan capitalized on by erecting a sign that read "If doctors eat our hot dogs, you know they're good!" Today, just the original Nathans sells over one million hot dogs each year. Feltman's is long gone.

Image: Takeru Kobayashi (L) and Joey Chestnut (C) compete in the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. | Photograph: Michael Nagle/Getty Images

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