BIZ DEV: OKRP Joins Chili's Roster

Brinker International has selected O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul (OKRP) to join its roster representing Chili's Grill & Bar following a review. Their first project will launch in early fall 2017 and run through the second quarter of 2018.

Earlier this spring, Chili's split from creative AOR Hill Holliday after 10 years. The agency shift coincides with the arrival of new Chili’s EVP/chief marketing & innovation officer Steve Provost. Provost joined Chili’s in March after running Brinker sister brand Maggiano’s Little Italy for the past seven years.

Provost  is entering the Chili's marketing department with a fresh perspective and evaluating all aspects of the marketing plan, said Brinker CEO Wyman Roberts during a recent earnings call with analysts. One change is bypassing the official AOR relationship in favor of working with shops on a per-project basis.

There is no word on the creative direction for the account. "We're not trying to convince somebody to come to Chili's that's not coming," said Roberts. "It's really about getting folks that have an affinity for the brand to come more often or to increase some frequency." 



So far this year Chili's has balanced its messaging with a "mix of value, innovation, and quality,” per Roberts. 

In January, for instance, it introduced a new "3 FOR ME" value promotion before transitioning in February to higher-priced smokehouse combo meals. According to the company this balanced marketing approach helped to deliver better than expected earnings results for the first half.   

Chili's advertising budget was $129 million in the U.S. in 2016, up from $117 million in 2015, according to Kantar Media. 

The review was led by Dallas-based consultant Mzyme Marketing.

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