Kingsford Charcoal lights faster, doesn't burn athletes

Leveraging buzz around O'Bannon's court victory over the NCAA sparks conversation around Kingsford Charcoal

Kingsford Charcoal (Oakland, California)



Kingsford Charcoal teamed up with former National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) star Ed O’Bannon to promote the use of Kingsford Charcoal for grilling during March Madness game-day festivities.

O’Bannon won a high-profile victory over the NCAA which violated antitrust law by preventing college football and men’s basketball players from being paid for the use of their names and likenesses. Partnering with the controversial O’Bannon heightened buzz and social media chatter and Kingsford’s approach also opted for humor.

Timed with the start of the profitable 2015 NCAA college basketball tournament, the #PayEd campaign featured O’Bannon’s image on about 1,000 limited ED-ition packages of charcoal that were for sale for $20 via The bag of charcoal, designed by Current, swapped out their standard line: "Ready 25% Faster, Keeps the BBQ Going Longer," with the tongue-in-cheek line: "Lights 25% Faster, Doesn’t Burn Athletes."

"If a company like ours is going to use a specific athlete’s likeness to sell charcoal, it makes sense that person gets a cut. Paying Ed seemed like the right thing to do – that doesn’t seem too controversial to us," says David Kargas, associate marketing director of The Clorox Company.

Current also replaced the traditional image of a man grilling, with O’Bannon standing behind a grill spinning a basketball on a pair of grilling tongs.  Not only did Kingsford pay O’Bannon for it, but they encouraged others to pay Ed too.

By tweeting #PayEd, Kingsford paid O’Bannon $1 for every use of the hashtag. This encouraged basketball fans and grilling enthusiasts to participate in the #PayEd campaign.

Once the campaign sparked some conversation, Kingsford and O’Bannon hosted an all-day grillathon. The event drew key media outlets, including ABC Sports Radio, The Huffington Post, and Bleacher Report Radio. 

The campaign garnered 267 million media impressions, with more than 90 million in the first 24 hours. #PayEd also generated 5 million social impressions and raised $3,258 with 13,031 uses of #PayEd overall.

Kathleen Treganowan


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