Weber is synonymous with grilling. Weber manufacturers the best quality outdoor cooking equipment and accessories at every price point and backs up their products with uncommon customer services.  However, when Weber completely re-designed their line-up of outdoor gas and charcoal grills for the year 2000, it was still a challenge to peak the interest of the jaded and overexposed New York food media. To generate media interest, BSMG created an innovative, media-savvy event, designed to introduce the new grills and create a media “buzz”.  The new product introduction was scheduled for the week following Spring Fashion Week.  “Backyard 2000” was positioned in the style of a hip New York fashion show, complete with a runway, MTV-style “grill” fashion video, music, choreography and a celebrity announcer – New York City’s BBQ man himself – Al Roker, co-host of The Today Show.  “Backyard 2000” showcased the season’s hottest new backyard fashions with charcoal and gas grills flaunting their ultra-hip, hot new features on a green grass and redwood-deck runway.  The features were highlighted by models who looked, acted and dressed as the “personification” of each new grill model.
Today’s outdoor chefs are more serious about food and the equipment they cook on than their predecessors.  They demand grills with state-of-the-art cooking technology as well as sleek styling.  Weber’s new product line offered consumers new style, new nomenclature, and a slimmed-down line that kept the best features of the old line and added new technology. The next step was to share the excitement with the media.
Weber’s objective for the new product launch event was simple: to introduce the new line of grills with cutting-edge creativity that reflected the new streamlined, re-designed product-line.  The intent was to generate media interest in the redesigned grills and in the upcoming grilling season.
Barbecue grills have been manufactured and promoted for decades.  Taking a familiar product and making it new, exciting and fresh was a challenge.  Further, it was essential that the event retain the old-fashioned spirit of a backyard barbecue – Weber’s core product occasion - while communicating the company’s trend-setting role in the outdoor cooking industry.  Finally, the New York food media is over-saturated by public relations campaigns, invitations and press materials daily.  “Backyard 2000” had to be an event that would break through the clutter and attract media attention, making this the event to attend.
Spring Fashion Week offered BSMG a unique opportunity.  Taking place at the end of February, Spring Fashion Week occurs just as magazine editors start to focus on summer cooking ideas. New York City hosts spring fashion premiers every year, so why not premier the latest in grill fashions?  The fashion show concept leveraged the city’s excitement about Spring Fashion Week and instantly communicated fun, style and trend-setting tastes.
Positioning “Backyard 2000” as a fashion show generated genuine interest from the media.  After all, who could imagine Weber barbecue grills sauntering down the hip New York runways typically crowded with the nations top models? And a fashion show would keep the editors’ attention on the grills, allowing them to learn about the latest grill features in a witty, original manner.
The key to a successful event is fresh creative, attention to detail and making the presentation as different, new and entertaining as possible without losing the message.  To successfully implement this fashion show, each element had to fit together seamlessly:
  • Location: BSMG secured Tapika, a well-located, popular midtown New York restaurant with stunning décor by uber-designer David Rockwell and a reputation for great food.  The restaurant’s midtown location, private room with a 50-foot ceiling and trendy reputation was essential.
  • Invitations:  To pique interest, media received a mysterious “save the date” teaser card before the “official” invitation was sent.  The graphics were carried through the event from the first postcard to the event programs, menu cards, giveaway and product literature.
  • Collateral Materials: As each guest checked in to Weber’s Backyard 2000, he or she received a fold-out “program” detailing the new Spring line.  At the event’s conclusion, each attendee received a commemorative “Fashion Plate” BBQ platter that was specially commissioned for Weber by luxury china maker Villeroy & Boch.
  • Decorations/centerpieces: The room was transformed into the quintessential American backyard. A sturdy redwood deck served as the runway where Weber displayed the newly designed gas and charcoal barbecue grill models.  Picnic tables were dressed with blue and white striped tablecloths, lanterns and brightly colored gerber daisies.  These simple props brought Backyard 2000 to life.  The festive quintessential American backyard set the stage for the media to inspect the grills up close and socialize at a backyard barbecue.
  • Event Flow/Menu: At the start of the show, guests were invited to help themselves to an assortment of beer, ice tea and lemonade from aluminum washtubs.  Al Roker cleverly emceed the event, introducing the new line of Weber grills.  To underscore the style of each individual grill model, a model dressed to personify the type of person who would typically own that model of grill, pointed out the product features as Al Roker detailed them.  A gourmet grilled lunch followed the fashion show, featuring flavorful grilled appetizers, mini-hamburgers and mini-steak sandwiches, cedar-planked salmon, coleslaw, grilled asparagus spears, dessert s’mores and other favorites.
Coverage of the new product line was the largest in company history for any new product launch and included placements in the Detroit News and Free Press, Chicago Tribune and The Memphis Commercial Appeal.  In addition, the Weber Summit®450, Genesis® Silver-A and Genesis® Silver-B were listed as the top three grills on the market according to the June, 2000 issue of Consumer Reports. 
120 media professionals attended the event including senior editors and prominent columnists from:
Bon Appétit; Food & Wine; Gourmet; The Food Network; Modern Bride;    GQ; Cosmopolitan; Good Housekeeping; Redbook; Esquire; Family Circle; Popular Mechanics
Broadcast coverage:  30 million impressions
Print coverage:  206 million impressions
Total:  236 million impressions
Sales of the new product line exceeded company projections.  However as Weber is a privately held company, we are unable to release the exact sales figures.