May 17, 2014


Sweet Baby Ray’s wanted to build brand awareness, gain market share in underperforming markets, enhance its retail relationship with Walmart and increase sales by putting the products directly in the hands of target consumers.


HMS was enlisted to design and build two custom vehicles to travel across the nation to help Sweet Baby Ray’s reach its goals.


To help Sweet Baby Ray’s reach its goals, HMS identified three types of consumer-driven events prime for sampling: large-scale events, college football games and retail stores in the Midwest.

For large-scale events, HMS secured seven event sponsorships that allowed the award-winning BBQ sauce to be showcased to attendees in a 10-foot-by-20-foot footprint. Two large inflatable bottles of BBQ sauce drew attention to the space where the team distributed full-size samples of the brand’s bestselling BBQ sauce flavors.

At college football games, HMS utilized a different tactic: guerilla sampling. The team loaded up a Sweet Baby Ray’s branded handcart, which was designed in-house at HMS, and infiltrated the tailgate areas of each game. Tailgaters were surprised with full-size bottles of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce to complete their grilled meals.

With the biggest focus on retail sales, HMS located 31 stores including Walmart and Siesta Food Mart to distribute samples. The team served as brand ambassadors outside each location, talking about the brand, its benefits and offering free samples and coupons. HMS also utilized the custom-built truck it developed that has an 8-foot Sweet Baby Ray’s bottle in its bed and a custom-wrapped utility trailer to build awareness of the brand in each community.


Combined with other efforts in each city, Sweet Baby Ray’s benefitted from an increase in sales. The tour resulted in:

  • Stops at 21 universities in 11 states;
  • More than 31,000 bottles distributed;
  • More than 31,000 coupons distributed;
  • 137 days on the road;
  • More than 341,000 on-the-road impressions;
  • 29 Walmart locations visited; and
  • More than 1,400 photos captured.

“HMS has helped us to engage with NASCAR’s fan base to build both brand awareness and loyalty for Sweet Baby Ray’s. We have benefited on countless occasions from HMS numerous, varied and deep NASCAR relationships and experience as our sampling program has evolved over the years. The HMS team has a solid understanding of our brand and objectives, enabling them to successfully design efforts that fit our strategy and budget.”
– Tom Murphy, Brand Manager, Sweet Baby Ray’s