On the eve of the 2019 Summer Solstice, seasoning and condiment brand McCormick introduced what it calls the Sumr Hits 5000, a six-burner grill with built-in turntable.
The 130-year-old brand wants to make sure U.S. consumers are prepared for the upcoming grilling season, and—with the custom-built barbecue—novice and champion grill-masters alike can create tracks while grilling. McCormick also partnered with pitmaster and four-time world barbecue champion Myron Mixon as well as hip-hop legend DJ Jazzy Jeff as spokesmen who literally embody this combination of barbecue and music.
The gas grill uses weight sensors and computer vision with pose detection to adjust the beat based on where food is placed. The grate also has pressure sensors that trigger custom software to play sounds based on sauces and spices as they are added.
McCormick asked its Instagram followers to vote on which sound should be associated with each spice, seasoning and sauce in its portfolio. French’s Mustard, for example, elicits audible fireworks.
“Anyone can walk up to the grill and make great music,” said a spokesperson for McCormick’s agency partner, Grey. “We hid the technology in the grill.”
And while the “concept grill” is not technically available for consumers, the Grey spokesperson said they are “exploring ways technology can enhance food as an experience and means of expression” and are “open to ways this innovative product and technology can evolve in the future.”
Other McCormick brands include Lawry’s Seasoning, Stubb’s BBQ Sauce and Frank’s RedHot. The brand ambassadors will use social polling during a livestream on Instagram to create additional recipes and tracks.
In addition to the grill and partnership, McCormick debuted a microsite, Find Your Summer Hit, which combines recipes, tips and how-to videos, along with ecommerce. According to Grey, music can influence the experience of eating, from the depth of flavor and perception of taste, to the pace of chewing and overall intake of food and drink.
“We’re in business of flavor,” said Alia Kemet, creative and digital marketing director at McCormick. “The goal is to use music and passion to create a more immersive experience. I think that’s what we did.”
In the fall, McCormick plans to roll out a VR experience that shows where spices come from as it continues to celebrate music and flavor—and the human experience. “This is a part of that journey for us,” Kemet added. “We have digital and emerging technology as a way to reach people authentically and in a way that matters.”