In recent years, brands have been told to become their own journalists – tell their own stories, on their terms, directly to their target audiences. Our client, Beef Loving Texans, already had a years-long track record of doing just that when we began working with them. Through their series of “Texas Stories,” they highlighted the special role beef plays in the lives of Texans.
In 2018, Beef Loving Texans wanted to do something different. Instead of isolated, two- to five-minute videos with accompanying written blogs, we recommended an episodic content series, tied with content designed to drive sales of beef – namely, recipes. Capitalizing on the trend of food-and-travel shows and today’s golden age of barbecue, the team decided on BBQuest: a tasting tour of Texas’ largest metro areas. To give audiences an additional reason to tune in, we shared some insider information: off-menu items at each restaurant we featured.
Each episode highlights three restaurants and two activities in a major metro area: Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth. Our series host, actor Kelsey Pribilski, is joined by a different guide to each city. Barbecue blogger and Hardcore Carnivore cookbook author Jess Pryles led Kelsey around Austin, James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd showed off Houston’s flavors, restauranteur and godfather of San Antonio’s culinary scene Johnny Hernandez gave us a taste of his city, and Top Chef ® contestant and restauranteur John Tesar guided Kelsey through Dallas-Fort Worth. Along the way, audiences got to see the natural beauty, art and historic sites which, along with food, shape the personality of each city.
For Beef Loving Texans, beautiful food photos and videos are important, but they’re not enough on their own. Beef Loving Texans represents the 140,000 beef ranchers and farmers in Texas, helping make beef the protein of choice for Texans through promotion, education and research. And while barbecue is an accessible food for many Texans, our research showed that most Texans only eat out one or fewer times per week. Additionally, given the size of the state, Texans may not be able to easily travel to another city in pursuit of one dish.
We needed to give BBQuest audiences eating at home a reason to eat beef that night. In addition to beautiful video and engaging conversations with top pitmasters and chefs, we offered BBQuest viewers a chance to recreate the secret menu items themselves, with Beef Loving Texans recipes inspired by the show. From a Korean beef ssam to brisket chocolate chip cookies, audiences will have twelve delicious reasons to prepare beef at home.
Apron created the BBQuest show idea and developed a script for a pilot episode, located in Austin. We put out an RFP to seven production companies in the Austin area, and selected a Matchstick Media as our production partner. With Matchstick and Beef Loving Texans, we casted our host and put plans in place for producing our pilot. We also developed a logo for the series.
We kicked off BBQuest production with a concert and party at downtown Austin’s best barbecue joint, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-Be-Cue, coinciding with the first night of the SXSW Interactive festival. Through the spring and summer, we overcame storms and heat and aligned busy schedules to produce the remaining three episodes in two days each. Through late summer, we worked with Matchstick and Beef Loving Texans to edit the episodes to about twenty minutes each, develop and photograph recipes inspired by the secret menu items, and prepare to launch the series.
We promoted the series with earned, social and paid media, driving all traffic back to BeefLovingTexans.com. BBQuest season one is now completed and you can watch all four epsiodes here. Results are still coming, but the launch day for the BBQuest trailer now represents the largest spike in traffic for BeefLovingTexans.com in more than a year.