- Chili’s has brought back its iconic Baby Back Ribs jingle with the aid of Grammy-winning artists Boyz II Men, according to a news release.
- Chili’s is promoting the cover in new ads and encouraging consumers to duet the jingle on TikTok and add it to their Spotify playlists. Additionally, the brand is selling limited-edition merchandise, including a vinyl recording of the Boyz II Men rendition and a ‘90s-styled tour T-shirt featuring the music act.
- The restaurant chain’s jingle first blew up 25 years ago, as did the singing group’s fourth studio album, “Evolution.” The timing of the releases, along with the similarities in their vocal harmonization styles, led some listeners to believe at the time that Boyz II Men was behind the Chili’s tune.
Chili’s is again playing up ‘90s nostalgia in its marketing, alongside a wave of brands that have enlisted signing groups that defined the decade’s music trends, as it did in a previous effort with R&B singer Brian McKnight. In this case, the sit-down restaurant chain is leaning into a misconception that the Baby Back Ribs jingle, officially titled “Chili’s (Welcome to Chili’s),” was recorded by Boyz II Men while trying to usher one of its signature pieces of branding into the TikTok era. Taped recordings of prior versions of the food-focused earworm are available to watch on YouTube and have occasionally gone viral on social media.
A new spot opens on Boyz II Men eating at a Chili’s and quibbling over whether they should discuss the tall tale that they are the singers behind the Baby Back Ribs jingle that begins with an instantly recognizable “I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…” refrain. The back-and-forth inadvertently leads the group to actually start singing the song, when stage lights suddenly turn on and bathe them in moody blue tones. The scene then transitions to the trio offering a rendition of the jingle in their typically smooth harmonies and matching white attire. Ads promoting the reworked track will air on streaming services, online platforms and social media through November.
Gen Z is also clearly a focus for Chili’s, as the marketer is making the jingle part of a TikTok push asking users to duet the song with their own take. Many in the age cohort were kids during the ‘90s, making them potentially ripe targets for a nostalgia-driven ploy. While Gen Z has expressed a preference for fast food, they have less fondness for casual dining, which has presented challenges to the category.
The Boyz II Men effort was overseen by CMO George Felix, who joined the company last year after previous stints at Pizza Hut and KFC. Agency Mischief helped develop the campaign and Dentsu X handled media.
While Chili’s is leaning into a specific piece of its history, other brands have run similar promotions of late. Meow Mix last July remixed its jingle with a “cat boy band” and assistance from NSYNC’s JC Chasez. CSAA Insurance Group a month later launched a campaign starring a supergroup called Boys No More that included Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris, joined by NSYNC’s Joey Fatone, New Kids On the Block’s Joey McIntyre and 98 Degrees’ Nick Lachey.