fast casual

Chili's Refuses To Let Silly-Looking Mascot Inside


The rising costs of dining out have consumers searching for the best deals to get the most bang for their buck. In direct response, Chili’s has launched a value-driven TV campaign touting the fast casual’s "3 for Me" for $10.99 promotion with new items.

And how does Chili’s offer such low prices? By not paying for a mascot.

The new effort touts how much more customers get for $10.99 at Chili’s vs. fast food, receiving bottomless drinks and bottomless chips and salsa along with their entrée.

The hero :30 spot, titled “No Mascot” and created by agency Mischief,  a bug-eyed, moustachioed chili pepper with bad teeth appears outside the windows of a Chili’s restaurant desperately begging to be let inside. “Never gonna happen,” says a server as the non-mascot pleads, “But I know the song!” and proceeds to sing Chili’s famous Baby Back Ribs jingle. “He doesn’t work here,” the server tells the viewer, as the super and VO promote the “3 for Me” deal.



“We know diners are experiencing sticker shock from the rising cost of fast food, with little change to the actual quantity or quality of fast-food combo meals,” said George Felix, Chili’s CMO, in a release. “We believe that Chili’s '3 For Me' offers better value than you’ll find in any drive-through.”

The three additional food-focused spots, created by Jon Marshall & Daughters, also support the effort. The spots highlight the new menu items available for the "3 for Me" promo including the Big Smasher Burger, Chili’s take on the smash burger trend, which includes  thousand island, lettuce, pickles, red onion and American cheese on a hand-smashed burger that’s “twice the meat of a Big Mac,” according to the release.  There is also a new Crispy Chicken sandwich available.

“We have partnered with various agencies for this effort, bringing the best talent together to create a comprehensive campaign,” Jesse Johnson, Chili’s vice president of marketing, told Marketing Daily. “The rising cost of fast food is a rich territory, and we wanted to attack the conversation in several ways creatively. This series of ads was created by two agencies to ultimately explore multiple angles of this campaign, with a few spots that are more food-focused and another that takes a more playful approach toward the industry at large.”

The campaign runs across linear TV, streaming services and social media. Customers are also encouraged to share on X “why Chili’s is better than fast food” by retweeting and using #Chilis3ForMeRescue for a chance to win a gift card for a $10.99 “3 For Me” meal at their next visit.

It was reported last year that Chili’s intended to increase its TV media spend by an “additional $55 million to $60 million on marketing this fiscal year,” and planned on including 21 weeks of national TV advertising, up from four the previous fiscal year.

Late last week Mischief posted this TikTok on consumer responses to the new ad, with an overview of how the creative process works and the positive client feedback. Later in the week the agency posted another  TikTok overview of most of its work for the Chili’s brand, and its positive results.

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