Olympic Hopeful

Tommie's Donuts scores marketing gold with its first-ever doughnut luge.

By Devlin Smith

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Thousands of people descended upon Salt Lake City, waving flags and cheering on local heroes as they battled it out for Olympic glory. At the same time, 15 other competitors, representing five countries, fought and struggled for the precious gold, silver and bronze medals at the doughnut luge event.

No, it wasn't an officially sanctioned event. The competitors didn't march in the opening ceremonies, but they did come to Salt Lake to win.

Tommie's Donuts, a Woods Cross, Utah-based franchise, created the doughnut luge to tie into the Olympic events taking place just miles from their five Utah locations. Contestants, who represented Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Samoa and the United States were given two minutes to eat as many donuts as possible. Medals were awarded, and the recipient of the gold won a year's supply of doughnuts.

"The goal was just for people coming from all over the world to have fun," explains Spencer Matthews, director of marketing and public relations for Tommie's.

Spectators of the event, which took place on February 15, saw an opening ceremony complete with a marching band and lighting of a cauldron. Participants dressed in native attire as they competed.

Since it was founded two years ago, Tommie's has worked to create a fun personality for itself. For grand openings, marching bands are invited to play. Once the company offered guests free hot air balloon rides. Likewise, the doughnut luge was "just another step on branding our concept and creating that Tommie's personality," says Matthews.

The doughnut luge was victorious in bringing attention to the brand. Spectators at the event stopped in at Tommie's locations outside of Salt Lake City. The company received comments, questions and e-mails, many asking when Tommie's would be expanding into new areas. Visitors also asked for franchise information. "It created some worldwide exposure," Matthews says. "We had people here from all over the world, and they were able to experience Tommie's. That was great."

Even though the Olympics won't return to Salt Lake City in the near future, the donut luge probably will. "We plan to do something like this every year," says Matthews, "just to further our concept and create our personality."

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