When Black-ish’s Anthony Anderson and king of comedy Cedric the Entertainer wanted to launch a new barbeque brand, their marketing partner Erik Huberman, CEO of Hawke Media, asked them why.
“Is there something missing in the market?” asked Huberman. “They kept talking about the whole community aspect. There’s so much great barbeque from different places from St. Louis to Compton to Austin and all these different territories that have their version of barbeque and they wanted to bring that community to the world.”
The two actors and friends loved hosting barbeques in their hometown of Los Angeles and wanted to bring this experience to a wider audience so they created a new show called “Kings of BBQ.” A&E picked up the show and became the perfect platform for the two to introduce their new brand AC Barbeque.
AC Barbeque is “founded on the principles of Black excellence, family tradition, and bringing people together,” according to the D2C company’s website. The brand sells rubs such as Midnight Smoke, the MVP and Lemon Stepper, as well as merchandise like branded t-shirts direct to consumers through their website. Additionally, the brand was recently picked up by Walmart and has shelf space in around 2,200 stores of the big box retailer’s stores, as well as online.
The brand launch effort has two parts, said Huberman. “They want to sell the product, but it has to be entertaining.” The TV show provides the entertainment and the desire to taste great barbeque. In the show, the duo visits barbeque places around the country. For instance, the two visit Compton’s Bludso and The Park’s Finest, a Filipino barbeque place in LA, to illustrate the diversity of the barbeque world that they are a part of.
Authenticity is a key part of the brand’s launch. “They’re really adamant about being real, authentic, nothing made up for the show,” added Huberman. “I’m a big proponent of if you’re going to launch a celebrity brand, it better be a great brand without the celebrity.”
For Hakwe Media’s part, build a direct-to-consumer brand requires a focus on the performance side and collecting data, so that they can send emails to communicate with customers and to understand the customer archetype and create lookalike audiences, which comes in handy when buying Facebook ad. “This is where leveraging a celebrity can really work because the creative comes from a brand you recognize,” added Huberman.
In the meantime, AC Barbeque will be hosting cookouts around Los Angeles, where consumers can taste the new flavors.