TAILGATING BECOMES BIG BUSINESS FOR MARKETERS

Food, Liquor and Cooking Gear Companies Cash In

By Published on .

Most Popular
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Joe Cahn is a presidential candidate slightly lesser known than the major party hopefuls, but
Photo: Campbell Soup Co.
Joe Cahn, parking lot celebrity and pitchman for Campbell Soup's tailgating-targeted products.
given the popularity of his platform he may stand a fighting chance come Nov. 2. "Forget the right wing and the left wing," Mr. Cahn stumps. "Give me the chicken wing."

Big business
The self-proclaimed Commissioner of Tailgating has seen the number of stadium parking lot revelers more than double during the past eight years since he traded in his house for a mobile home and took to the road to promote what he calls the "New American Community." Marketers, too, are standing up (with or without a foam finger) and taking notice: Selling tailgating-oriented products has become a big business.

Campbell Soup Co. has retained Mr. Cahn, creator of the Web site tailgating.com, as the pitchman for its Chunky Chili line. The marketer has made tailgating fans the central focus of its print and TV advertising for the product.

Other brands are likewise boosting their efforts to reach fanatics of blacktop bashes, among them Weber, Johnsonville Brats, Jack Daniels and Tabasco.

$2,199.95 grill
Hammacher Schlemmer & Co. has gone so far as to market a Grill-and-Cooler Tailgate Set that retails for $2,199.95. Ridiculous? Not really. Tailgaters are serious about their cooking gear.

A recent tailgating study conducted by Weber-Stephen Products Co., manufacturer of Weber grills,

Photo: Hammacher Schlemmer
Hammacher Schlemmer's $2,199.95 tailgate set attaches to a trailer hitch. It includes a waterproof CD music system and 15-foot flagpole as well as a stainless-steel grill and cooler.
found that more than 30 million Americans have tailgated in the past 12 months. The average of 1,000 tailgaters polled said they spent $576 annually on food and beverages for tailgating parties, while 18% spent over $1,000 and 6% shelled out more than $2,000.

A tailgating.com survey found that 71% of the 3,000 tailgaters polled tailgate at least six times a season. A similar survey commissioned by Brown-Forman Corp.'s Jack Daniels Distillery discovered that 30% of pre-football partyers don't actually attend the game.

Campbell vs. Hormel
"The whole tailgating phenomenon continues to grow and the fans are unbelievable," said Campbell spokesman John Faulkner. That's why Campbell, taking on chili leader Hormel Foods, is featuring notoriously outrageous tailgaters at a Green Bay Packers game in its TV and print ads from WPP Group's Young & Rubicam, New York.

Weber took to tailgates beginning last fall at college and national football games and kept it up into spring baseball games and Nascar events to tout its portable Weber Q and Baby Q grills, offering tailgaters grilling on competitive brands the chance to take the "Q Challenge." Success with the strategy has prompted the marketer to again roam the parking lots for what Christina Schroeder, Weber's vice president of marketing, calls "random acts of

Image: Jack Daniel's
Whiskey makers have found a fertile market in tailgate parties.
grilling," often linking up with local radio station promotions.

Tailgate whiskey marketing
Jack Daniels has made tailgating an even bigger component of its marketing this year, expanding what it calls the Great American Tailgate Search it embarked on three years ago to additional markets. It has also commissioned a survey to lend more insight to its formerly more haphazard approach. "We've been working hard to get consumers to think of Jack Daniels as appropriate in settings outside the typical bar and home environment, especially picnics and tailgate parties that are usually more beer occasions," said John Hayes, vice president and brand director for Jack Daniels.

In addition to incorporating tailgating into its advertising, from Havas' Arnold Worldwide, St. Louis, the whiskey brand will send three buses to 50 markets this season. The buses arrive a week ahead of scheduled games for on-premise promotions and media events to build publicity for its parking-lot searches for the best tailgates. Six-person tailgating teams compete at the Super Bowl in a cook-off.

Lobsters and Jack Daniels
Serious tailgaters aware of the promotion from years past have reached out to Jack Daniels via its Web site to show off their potentially winning parties, among them those that set up fake beaches complete with hot tubs and serve lobsters steamed in Jack Daniels and water.

Johnsonville Sausage will likewise look to encourage use of its Johnsonville Brats in tailgate-party recipes by teaming up with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, who will induct one winner each week into the Johnsonville Bratwurst Tailgating Hall of Fame during

Image: Campbell Soup Co.
Demonstrating the decorum for which tailgaters are famous, this fan is one of the stars of a Campbell's Chunky Chili commercial. See the video in this week's 'TV Spots of the Week.'
his CBS radio broadcasts of Monday Night Football games.

The winner will get the World's Ultimate Tailgate Party, featuring Johnsonville's Big Taste Grill, one of two converted semi trucks featuring grills that cook up to 2,500 brats an hour that Johnsonville sends out to tailgates and major events.

Tabasco recipes
McIlhenny Co., too, is looking at ways to use tailgating to drive usage of its sauces beyond summer grilling, according to Jan Carroll, retail brand manager. Tailgating recipes featuring its Tabasco and new Chipotle Pepper Sauce and "essentials" such as a Tipsy Chicken Cooker Set are featured on its Web site, pepperfest.com, and are in newspaper inserts. Ms. Carroll said the company is looking to further expand that tenuous connection to the growing tailgating phenomenon going forward.

The Web site for tailgater bible "The Tailgaters Handbook" (which links to marketers including Johnsonville and French's Mustard) proudly boasts that the site logged 1,649,000 visits in 2003. After all, as presidential hopeful Mr. Cahn asserts: "Tailgating is every man's skybox."

In this article: