The ‘Grill God’ Preaches Better Barbecuing in This Unholy Ad for a Fancy Pellet Grill

Camp Chef's version of Morgan Freeman

Fans of backyard barbecues: Let the Grill god show you the light. He’ll also bring the heat, but don’t worry, it’s not hellfire. No repenting necessary.

The ad character, created by viral video mavens the Harmon Brothers, is a toga-wearing home cook who’ll whip up something carnivorously divine while a gospel choir provides a rousing soundtrack. Praise the lord, and pass the coleslaw! He even converts a “vegan goddess,” who finds herself covered in marinade and gnawing on brisket by the end of his neighborhood gathering. Ah, temptation.

But Grill god isn’t actually the Almighty: “He’s god with a lowercase g,” said Daniel Harmon, creative director on the new video for Camp Chef’s high-end Woodwind grill. “He’s a magical sort of god, with a little Greek thrown in, but mostly he’s rooted in the culture of Southern barbecue.”

The Harmons are known for such off-kilter mashups in videos for Chatbooks, Squatty Potty, Poo-Pourri and Purple mattresses. Their latest, which launched Wednesday, centers on a character who sports a laurel wreath on his head and a spice-filled tool belt around his waist while talking unholy smack about conventional grilling methods.

Don’t even consider charcoal (blasphemy!), and the results of gas grilling (burned on the outside, raw in the middle) show off “the devil’s work.” “If that cow wanted to be cremated, he would’ve put it in his will,” says Grill god. And putting five Cuban cigars in a chickens mouth will not give you the smoked food you so desire.

“He looks like Morgan Freeman, he sounds like Morgan Freeman,” said Ty Measom, president of Camp Chef, referring to the actor famous for his God (with a capital G) roles. “He’s a great authoritative figure.”

In the digital short, Grill god, played by J.W. Hutson, saves a hapless suburban dad from yet another disastrous cookout by introducing him to a product that combines wood and gas grilling with smoking and extreme-heat searing. He also stops him from doing an embarrassing white-guy dance.

The five-minute video takes its cues from other Harmon Brothers ads: It’s a modernized infomercial and a direct-sell message wrapped in a cheeky piece of entertainment.

The digital short, titled “The Secret Weapon of BBQ Perfection,” is the most significant advertising effort in Camp Chef’s 27-year history, Measom said. It will launch the Woodwind, which is an upgraded model with added features in a category of grilling that’s begun to, well, sizzle. So-called pellet grills, priced anywhere from $500 to $1,200, have been mostly specialty items for the better part of a decade, he said.

“This year, they’re just starting to be mass-market, so the timing is right for a big push,” Measom said. “The foodie culture is driving the interest. There’s also a lot of attention around smokers and that method of cooking.”

He wanted a video star who could make the product “approachable and accessible” to everyone from veteran chefs to barbecue novices. He thinks Hutson works so well in the video that he might use him for other brand campaigns, voiceovers and social media. He envisions a potential line of Grill god seasonings, recipes and cooking accessories.

“Grill god’s heavenly ribs?” he said. “We’d like to use him as the hook to keep pushing the brand.”

The Harmon Brothers kicked off the new video, which will be distributed primarily via Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, with an outdoor barbecue on Wednesday near their Provo, Utah, headquarters. Local chefs went head-to-head on Woodwind grills, with guests eating (and judging) the results.

Hutson, whom Harmon described as “an old Texas cowboy who rides horses, ropes cattle and loves barbecue,” was on hand to “bless” the proceedings.

CREDITS
Agency: Harmon Brothers
Creative Director: Daniel Harmon
Agency Managing Director: Benton Crane
Director of Accounts: Theron Harmon
Producer: Shane Rickard
Line Producers: Jonah Rindlisbacher, Daniel Harmon
Writers: Jonny Vance, Matt Meese, Whitney Meek, Malory Everton
Director: Daniel Harmon
Co-Director: Shane Rickard
1st AD: Willem Kampenhout
2nd AD/Project Manager: Tiffani Barth
Grill god: J.W. Hutson
Kyle: Logan Rogan
Vegan goddess: Jaclyn Hales
Director of Photography: Tyler Stevens
Food Cinematographer: Simon Paul
1st AC: Max Carter
Gaffer: Phil Shepherd
Key Grip: Kevin Woodward
Food Stylist: Suzy Eaton
Editor: Kaitlin Snow
Visual Effects Supervisor: Josh Badger
Digital Effects: Tyler Stevens, Josh Badger, Nick Dixon
Graphic Design: Brett Crockett
Production Sound: Jacob Edvalson
Sound Design: Bryan Densley
Behind The Scenes: Mike Henderson
Client: Camp Chef
COO: Brandon Sparrow
Director of Marketing: Travis Simon
VP of Marketing Kent Millecam
Founder/President Ty Measom