Char-Broil was looking to elevate their social presence to be about more than just cutting down TV commercials and reposting influencer recipes. They wanted to promote their products but recognized that most people don’t buy a grill online. They were more interested in connecting with their audience—talking to them, learning from them, laughing with them, and most importantly sharing a mutual love for grilling with them. However, in 2015 Char-Broil’s social presence was a bit on the, um, raw side. Beyond reaching their core audience, our bigger challenge was demonstrating social media’s potential as an impactful force for both the brand and the business as well as where and how that untapped growth could be activated.
McBeard / Fullscreen
2015 – 2018
art and copy direction
Kicking off in the fall of 2015, my first year on Char-Broil was focused on exploring the world of grilling and understanding the brand and their audience. The client’s top priority was producing immediate content for the fast approaching holiday season but our assets and education were limited to searching charbroil.com. Instead of focusing on what we didn’t have—time, resources, a grill—I used those limitations to define a playful sandbox for my team to explore diverse styles and executions with a sense of humor and joy. By casting such a wide net creatively I was also able to quickly develop new directions, scrap the mediocre work, and respond to client feedback with a continuous range of fresh options.
EARLY MOOD BOARD
Char-Broil was a highly collaborative partner, allowing us free reign to play with their brand identity. Although my immediate recommendation was to remove the logo from all social posts, the flame mark inside it had an appealing shape. I isolated the flame from the logo and directed my team to start using it to bring branding into the visual style in both subtle and cheeky ways.
Several early concepts like the April Fool’s Grills were instant hits with fans and became yearly traditions.
I quickly identified custom photography as a key area of development for maximizing creative impact and won a scope expansion for a photo shoot in 2016. That shoot was so successful that another was added for the fall of that year and 2017 included three seasonal shoots plus an extra one-off for Oklahoma Joe’s Smokers, one of Char-Broil’s subsidiary brands. On set I maximized production resources so each shoot could cover a wide range of products, post types, holidays, smallidays, and specialized design needs like backgrounds and textures. Each shoot also steadily elevated what began as a basic working style guide into a robust social identity that became so strong it impacted the larger brand’s creative identity.
2015 STYLE GUIDE
For example, despite it being the only color in their logo the client consistently expressed concern about using too much of the color red because it made them think of Weber, their biggest competitor. In response I introduced a bold yellow that went on to become Char-Broil’s new global signature color in 2017.
2018 STYLE GUIDE
Art Director: Lennox Rees
Leading creative on Char-Broil for over three years gave me the rare opportunity to get in deep with both the brand and the audience. That intimate connection built a relationship of trust and authenticity, allowing me to foster an environment of creative freedom and experimentation. In creating over 500 unique images and posts, my team evolved into a seemingly inexhaustible wellspring of ideas, enthusiasm, and BBQ puns. In 2017 Char-Broil’s social media was honored as a finalist in the Consumer Brand category of the 10th Annual Shorty Awards. The greatest achievement for me personally, however, has been building a creative team through the work. The account’s monthly cadence and dependable rhythm made it an ideal training ground to develop new talent and beta test workflow. I even had the privilege of promoting four people as a result of their work on Char-Broil. #GrilledIt
Grilling means disproportionate amounts of buns and dogs. How do you handle the math? pic.twitter.com/YDfzmxozsg
— Char-Broil (@Charbroil) September 16, 2016
— Char-Broil (@Charbroil) August 21, 2017