June 14, 2011 at 8:02 AM ET
Just in time for Father’s Day, we are told, and (somewhat) happy to report the perfect gift: Barbecue-scented perfume. Or cologne.
“We call it a fragrance, it’s for men and women,” Pork Barrel BBQ cofounder Heath Hall, says of "Que."
Hall and his partner are based in D.C. and are former Congressional staffers – Pork Barrel, get it? But they are serious about barbecue. After their boss lost his re-election bid, the “Missouri boys” stayed in the area and started marketing sauces and rubs.
It was slow going, but turns out that two veterans of political campaigns knew a bit about viral marketing. Pretty soon they were on reality TV (ABC’s “Shark Tank”) and winning regional competitions.
Yet when they attended a boutique foods exhibition in San Francisco, they had trouble getting their booth noticed. After the show they tried to come up with, for lack of a better term, a publicity stunt.
“We went back to the basics. Like the backyard barbecue that everyone goes to. You get out and you smell the barbecue. It’s inevitable someone gets out of the car and immediately goes ‘That smells good.’”
“Of course we had no experience in the fragrance world,” Hall says. And, working with an outside firm, they had some “early strikeouts.”
“Much less likely anyone would want them in their house, much less on their body,” he says.
But after a few months of research and a new fragrance contractor, they perfected the scent.
“And Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein are beating our doors down trying to get the secret recipe,” Hall says. “Well, not maybe yet. But they will be!”
The company also has some would-be viral commercials for the scent on their site.
But the big question for Hall: What is barbecue? Carolina? Texas? Kansas City?
“Doesn’t matter,” Hall says. “I don’t hold bias with barbecue.”
Spoken like a true politician.