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Food & Beverage
Helping A Storied Restaurant Franchise Expand Globally And Unite Cultures Around The World
We had the privilege of working with Chili’s – a brand so iconic, it was able to replace its own name with a giant red pepper. Of the 1,600+ restaurants operating worldwide, Magnetic’s involvement focused on helping Chili’s restaurant locations on a global scale. Our strategy was to align the regions of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East in order to reach their customers with a consistent brand experience everywhere.
Because Chili’s restaurants are so spread out, our favorite Tex-Mex chain has experienced significant inconsistencies in its branding across regions. Magnetic’s task was twofold: toestablish an overarching brand strategy that would align international operations under a singular vision, as well empower Chili’s Global franchisees promote themselves moreeffectively within their own region.
Assessing the Global Dining Landscape
It was essential that we understood consumer perception of the Chili’s brand in each region prior to coming up with a solution. We went through a rigorous intelligence phase which included global research and discovery for each region to ensure our efforts were objective, unbiased, localized and relevant. After a thorough look at the brand, competitors, and consumer behavior, our strategy team discovered 4 key insights:
Before rolling up our sleeves and getting to work, first we needed to sit down and look at how fast-casual dining is perceived on a global scale. Our strategy team discovered 4 key insights:
- People Love Eating Out
- It's A Place to Connect with Family and Friends
- Fast Casual Restaurants are Most Preferred
- Price, Flavor and Quality are Paramount
With those truths in mind, we knew people were hungry for restaurants like Chili’s, especially outside of the US – but what made Chili’s stand out most among its many competitors was yet to be determined. To arrive at an answer, we needed to better acquaint ourselves with Chili’s the restaurant as well as the people behind the pepper.
The Brand Workshop
Off we went to the Heartland in Dallas where we met up with an enthusiastic and proud bunch of self-described “ChiliHeads”. It was there we heard from employees from all around the world who had witnessed firsthand the disconnect among Chili’s Global locations. It became clear franchisees were eager to get on the same page – to come together under a singular vision that communicates Chili’s universal values.
Order Up - A Multicultural Brand Strategy
Having researched the category and spoken extensively with the people involved, Magnetic prepared to serve up a brand strategy that would help Chili’s deal with their ever-fragmented global brand. The main tenets of the strategy were as follows:
Chili’s is Flavored with Culture
Chili’s happened when two cultures embraced one another’s flavors. Mexican cuisine with a Texas twist. That’s not only a product of acceptance, but also of eager inclusion and selfless validation. Chili’s restaurants then should be a place that inspires a similar feeling of belonging – regardless of politics, religion, race, gender, and social status.
We All Grow Together
From an internal perspective, Chili’s Global restaurants have suffered due to inconsistent regional branding. To position itself as accepting of others, champions of diversity, we needed to paint a picture of a unified global brand. Even though Chili’s franchises grow in different soil and come in different flavors, they’re all Chili’s. They’re all part of the same team.
Make People Feel Special
Chili’s should be an experience that regularly goes off menu. It’s where flavors are shared, memories are made, and all are welcomed like family. This is Chili’s Global’s guiding principle – their True North.
One Brand Voice, Many Dialects
In order to deploy the newly formulated brand strategy as effectively as possible, Magnetic established regional personas, and subsequently, regional tones of voice to best reach a diverse and widespread audience. By mining cultural insights from each region, we were able to whip up archetypal representations of Chili’s customers found all over the world so Chili’s could better cater to the many cultures it serves.
Knowing Latin American customers are more likely to have a drink with their meal, for example, could result in Chili’s promoting happy hour as a time to let loose and sip margaritas in that region, whereas in the Middle East and Asia they'd likely opt for a more family-oriented approach.
Constructing Chili's Moments
With the new strategy in place, it was time to develop a campaign that would capture the essence of culture and togetherness we’d previously established. The idea was to present Chili’s Moments as the actual main course when dining at Chili’s.
One example of a Chili’s Moment would be when the little guy eats so much he nods off at the table. Maybe it’s when grandma orders fajitas and they fog up her reading glasses. Or when you bump into an old pal at the bar who shares his appetizer while watchin' the big game.
We chose the campaign tagline "Savor the Moment" and rolled out a series of creative assets focused on lifestyle moments and a variety of menu items.
A Global Content Activation Strategy
We developed a media plan to release the "Savor the Moment" campaign into each region. These slice of life ads achieved an intimate look at the heartwarming moments that customers stumble upon while dining at a Chili’s. In order to bring our audience to the table, we focused on tight shots with shallow depths of field.
Additionally, varied frame rates and mixed up clip speeds helped pace the stories, so as to savor the Chili’s Moment presented in each video. We should also mention we shot these commercials in a Chili’s restaurant during after hours, which meant shooting all… night… long. By the time we wrapped, our video crew couldn’t tell a chili pepper from a short rib.
Branded Key Art
Our key art print ads featured still snapshots of people savoring these Chili’s Moments. These executions paired intimate lifestyle photography with clever, first-person headline copy to create unique and relatable Chili’s Moments.
As we turned our attention to the signature menu items we augmented our “Savor the Moment” to "Savor the Flavor" or "Savor the Sweet" etc. so that it corresponded with the visual. It was a seamless transition from lifestyle to food which created a nice cadence across the entire campaign.
Both methods of execution reaffirm what we previously established in the strategy phase – that Chili’s restaurants anywhere in the world are ideal for customers who are hungry for delicious food, good company, and making memories. Chilis isn't just a place, it's an experience worth remembering.
The Table is Set for Endless Possibilities
Developing a comprehensive yet tailored brand strategy for Chili’s Global offered relief to a previously fractured worldwide restaurant chain. In addition, Magnetic delivered a Brand Style Guide and Digital Strategy to help franchisees adopt the campaign and stay on-brand when executing marketing collateral down the road.
As for the future, Magnetic remains a trusted partner of Chili’s Global looking to assist in reaching more markets as they continue to expand. We savor the relationship as much as the campaign. And of course, their indescribably delicious salsa.
- Research & Discovery
- Brand Development
- Brand Strategy
- Creative Strategy
- Creative Development
- Asset Creation
- Video Production
- Analysis & Definition
- Marketing Strategy
- Campaign Execution