Summer grilling season is here, and online news and lifestyle site Thrillist, where "food and drink" is the main vertical, has partnered with celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez and Miller Lite for a two-year digital and in-store campaign.
The publisher’s largest influencer-driven effort to date kicks off with a 15-part video series launching on Monday that features the James Beard-winning restaurateur and "Chopped" star and 20 of his original recipes.
"Thrillist has a long track record of working and creating content with the world's leading chefs and food minds, but the scale of those relationships has always been capped by the length of the campaign flight," said Hayden Lynch, vice president of branded content at Thrillist. "Between the length of the relationship and the dozens of custom recipes and multiple consumer touchpoints, the relationship with Chef Aaron and Miller Lite is on another level."
Previously, Thrillist has created one-off custom videos with influencers such as YouTube’s Rhett and Link and local chefs like Will Horowitz of Duck's Eatery in New York. Sanchez, however, is a "true brand ambassador," said Lynch. The chef will also make store appearances and appear on display materials as part of the campaign.
Known for Mexican and Latin American cuisine, Sanchez stars in eight of the 15 videos and walks viewers through the preparation of his recipes, ranging from grilled snapper to beer can chicken. Each recipe either incorporates Miller Lite as an ingredient or pairs well with the beer. Thrillist has dubbed the one to five-minute videos the "Get Grilling" series. They include plenty of product placement and close-ups of Sanchez drinking Miller Lite.
"I love grilling whole fish. It’s a lighter protein but it doesn’t sacrifice great taste just like Miller Lite," says Sanchez in one of the videos, and then picks up a can, throws back his head and gulps down some beer.
The other seven videos do not star Sanchez, but still provide step-by-step directions of how to cook more of his recipes, including Queso Fundido and corn scallion salad.
Lynch said the publication chose Sanchez to host the series because he not only lines up with the Thrillist audience, 25 million monthly uniques coming mostly from millennial males, but food lovers as well. "We pride ourselves on offering approachable and accessible ways to help you squeeze the most out of life, and Chef Aaron brings that ethos to the grill with recipes that offer next-level taste without requiring a degree from culinary school," said Lynch. "Anyone who wants to get the most out of their summer can benefit from this partnership."
What Miller Lite gets out of the partnership is a chance to show the many ways the beer can be used for cooking. "Our Miller Lite team was thrilled to partner with Aarón Sánchez on the Get Grilling video series, as well as the 20 recipes, in order to showcase the versatility of Miller Lite," said Sheryl Rosa, director of marketing at Miller Lite, which also sponsors the content on Thrillist’s BBQ site Grillist.
The videos will be posted with stories detailing the recipes and will be housed on a custom landing page. The series will be also be distributed on Facebook, where the publisher hopes to capitalize on the platform’s recent algorithm emphasis on videos over 90 seconds, Lynch said.
Thrillist has been increasing its emphasis on video content. In February, the publication’s parent company Group Nine Media reorganized the company to make video more of a priority.