Chili’s is buying ads on TikTok in an effort to attract younger customers

Digiday 09 Mar 2020 04:00

Late last week, Chili’s joined TikTok with a hashtag “challenge,” #ChilisBirthday, to celebrate the restaurant chain’s 45th anniversary. Marketers at the chain restaurant are hoping that doing so will not only catch the attention of the Gen Z consumers that the app is popular with but also gets those consumers to suggest going to Chili’s for the night and, in turn, the tactic could increase sales and restaurant visits.

For the challenge, which ends on March 13th, Chili’s is asking customers to go to their local restaurant, record a TikTok of someone being surprised with the chain’s birthday song and post it with the hashtag for the chance to win one of three $313 gift cards to the restaurant. The hashtag challenge is meant not only to drive awareness that Chili’s is now on the platform but to open up the brand story to be told by fans rather than spokespeople, said Chris Ebbeler, director of social media and community engagement at Chili’s.

“We do not want to convey a sense of ‘Oh God, here comes another brand on TikTok,’” said Ebbeler. “Brands these days are challenged by trying to connect with people in ways that feel meaningful and authentic. For the past three or four years, we’ve started to embrace that we can have relationships with people and the more we turn [our brand] over to our fans to let them interpret the brand, the more we learn about ourselves.”

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