Smoke on the Water.

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*Image from Jeremy Tufts with Southern Cross Pictures. Jeremy took this photo while he was visiting Fierce on St. Simons Island. This shot was taken at Southern Soul Barbecue, one of the most famous local BBQ spots in the Golden Isles. The image of the smoke brought to mind the story featured here in this blog post.

One of the things I love most about being in the ad business are the stories we collect over time. Before we take on any new creative endeavor, we do our homework first and often times, this immersion time leads to magical discoveries and moments that we cherish. Each time we are disciplined to start with research and strategy first, the right ideas always come.

Over a decade ago I was asked to come up with a name and a brand and a design concept for the now Smoke on the Water restaurant located in downtown Greenville, SC. I decided I needed to take a trip to NC to visit with the gentleman who was creating the original BBQ sauces which were to be the star for their delicious recipes before I could properly begin my brainstorming.

He and his wife led me in to their kitchen and insisted that I taste his four signature sauces which were truly delicious. I was an instant fan and we spent the afternoon talking about his secret sauce ingredients. Then before I left, he did something unexpected. He asked me to come outside so he could “introduce me to his woodpile.” I walked outside with him to his yard where random pieces of split wood were scattered all around in little piles. He told me that the true magic was in the smoke that came from each different kind of wood—that it wasn’t his sauce or the cut of meat or anything that he did that made the process special. It was the smoke. And it was magic.

I loved this moment so much and it inspired the name, “Smoke on the Water” which was unanimously agreed upon by the ten-person owner group. The brand is still going strong today and every time I visit when I’m in Greenville, I think of the magic in the smoke and how lucky I was to be introduced to his wood pile that day.