What began as a tongue and cheek marketing ploy has developed into a retail and public relations bonanza.
Heath Hall and Brett Thompson are known for concocting sauces, not fragrances. But the founders of Pork Barrel Barbeque recently introduced Que (Eau de Barbeque), an intoxicating bouquet of spices, smoke, meat and sweet summer sweat, according to its 2-ounce spray bottle.
The business partners unleashed Que on the public to promote the companys website and the first Pork Barrel restaurant, slated to open later this summer in Del Ray.
Their approach is jovial, but effective. Que is a spoof, Thompson said, and the partners compare their intriguing fragrance to those invented by P. Diddy and Elizabeth Taylor, among others. Consider Que an acquired scent.
Its a matter of taste, said Hall. Just like you have some people who like tomato-based sauces, others may like mustard-based or vinegar sauces. With fragrance, some like Armani or Ralph Lauren. Others like Que.
Jokes aside, the process of bottling a backyard barbeque was not easy.
It took about six months to come up with the right fragrance, Thompson said.
Using savvy social media marketing, the co-founders leveraged Que to gain national press, including an appearance on ABCs Good Morning America. The duo even fielded media calls from Malaysia.
It seems to have worked. The initial 100-bottle order they placed sold out within days, and their next order sold out too. The owners have a third shipment ready to sell, Hall said.
The two came up with the idea at a food show in San Francisco. Hall said reactions from his friends range from thats the best fragrance theyve ever had to you wouldnt catch me dead wearing that.
Hall and Thompson created three commercials for the fragrance and launched them on YouTube and at www.porkbarrelbbq.com. One spoofs Taylors famous White Diamonds ad, but replaces her diamond earrings with a rack of ribs. These have always brought me luck, says a man dressed in a pig costume as he throws the barbeque slabs on the table. Visitors to the website can vote for their favorite ad, or create their own.
Sometimes people see the cologne commercials and order a couple of bottles of sauce, Thompson said.
The commercials have received more than 25,000 views, total.
We joked that what that probably means is we have too much time on our hands, said Thompson.
Jokingly or not, Que is getting some serious attention.
Its been called intoxicating, said Thompson.
When asked if he wears the fragrance, Thompson said, We bathe in it.