Blacktop 360 Branding: The Spinal Tap of Tailgating


Blacktop 360 Party Hub Grill Fryer is a UFO-like portable tailgating machine that retails for $250. Billed as a “next-level man machine,” the grill is “specifically designed for social cooking,” better known as tailgating.

The grill is “a deep fryer, infrared grill and griddle all in one. Cook up all your favorite tailgating grub with ease—everything from fries to your favorite exotic big game.” One of the neatest little details of the Blacktop 360 is that, in Spinal Tap fashion, the dials “go to 11.”[more]

But as interesting as the the machine is as a product, the low-res, affordable promotional campaign put together to create a brand around the Blacktop 360 is fascinatingly ballsy. We spoke with the brand to learn more.[more]

For the brand, anything seems game. The other viral ads the brand has created are, frankly, hilarious. From tongue in cheek “chicks in bikinis” to drunk golfing, the videos exemplify what the brand is all about. Indeed, “Llamas don’t have any rights!”

Then, there is the Kill the Grill campaign which gave away 50 Blacktop 360s to lucky winers. The “Kill the Grill” viral campaign has produced some wild consumer-generated content. It’s unclear how much input the brand itself has in videos like the man who flew his grill away with dozens of helium balloons.

Or the guy who threw his off a bridge.

Or “Marty,” who turned his into an improvised explosive device.

What the “kill the grill” submissions have in common is, brand appropriately, they all go up to 11.

Blacktop360 / Bravo Sports Brand and Category Manager Joseph Klingl spoke with us about the Blacktop 360 and its brand strategy.

Brandchannel: What the heck is an “infrared grill?”

Klingl: Infrared grilling is the current “big new thing” to be adopted in portable grilling.  It’s been used for years in high end steak houses and now it’s becoming widespread.   The infrared grill works by having the open flame heat an element which could be a variety of materials, ours uses a ceramic element which is found in top of the line cookers.  The effect is much higher surface temperatures (650+ in our case) than a normal grill, as well as a high output of infrared wavelength heat which penetrates the cooking meat. The result is high temperatures searing of the outside to seal in flavor, and fast cooking of the inside.

BC: How are sales going?

Klingl: Going well, we are just starting out (about 8 weeks ago) and have been getting new placements weekly. As our presence and marketing matures you’ll see it in more retailers.  The tailgating season is a prelude to the big launch of all outdoor categories in the spring.

BC: Other than the youtube ads and facebook contest, what else are you doing to get the word out? Any viral/gorilla marketing efforts?

Klingl: We use banner and print ads in Tailgater Monthly and also advertise on sites like, these are specific niche outlets linked to the dedicated tailgating community — serious partiers and outdoor cooking experts.  We knew these people were our core group of thought leaders and we speak directly to them. There also is a tailgating tour with a select group of sponsors we are a part of. We also have our own custom converted “ultimate tailgating vehicle” we take to events and tradeshows. Our plans evolve daily as we are just at the beginning.

BC: What’s been the greatest challenge building the brand so far?

Klingl: The brands that dominate outdoor cooking tend to be very old, established brands Charbroil, Weber, Coleman — the level of brand interaction in the category is relatively low and the messaging is quite consistent and conservative.  It’s easy for us to stand out, but it can present a challenge to engage at a level we want, simply because the channel isn’t used to it. Our brand is leading with a new image for tailgate/partying/social cooking, (so) we have to educate people. Luckily whenever someone sees our brand and our product they get it and those that like it tend to be very passionate about it.