Everyone knows Chili’s is the home of baby back ribs. But how many know it was started by a couple of “hamburger hippies” more than 40 years ago?
That origin story is the key to Chili’s newest marketing campaign, “Chillin’ Since ’75.” “We’re in a category right now that’s in a battle for share,” Chili’s CMO Krista Gibson told me. “How do you make a brand stand out?” The category’s marketing uses a lot of similar creative—photos of food and happy people—so Chili’s decided to tell a story that’s uniquely its own.
It turns out its story, rooted in the ’70s resonates, with Millennials as well as Baby Boomers. “Authenticity and brands that are real are very important to them. To know that Chili’s has this real authentic story was very impactful,” Gibson explained. The campaign also uses music from that decade, which “Millennials have a real appreciation for,” she said.
At the same time, the company has invested in cutting-edge tabletop technology. “To be a relevant brand, it’s critical to not only embrace technology but almost be a ‘first mover’ in the category,” Gibson continued. The tabletop devices not only improve customer service but provide a vehicle for immediate customer feedback. “We’ve increased our guest feedback 20 or 25 times,” she said. “The data gives us very actionable insights.”
Highlights from this week’s Marketing Superstars podcast include:
- Why brands need to embrace leading-edge technology (4:57)
- The three “wins” to look for from a technology rollout (8:36)
- How involved the CMO should be in technology decisions (11:36)
- How to make a brand stand out in a crowded category (14:20)
- How to know you’re getting your message across with digital marketing (18:18)
- Why Chili’s and casual dining in general appeal to Millennials (22:20)
Read the related CMO.com Interview: Chili’s CMO Invites Consumers To ‘Be Our Digital Guest’