- Chili's Grill & Bar on March 6 will unveil its official account on social video app TikTok as part of the nationwide celebration for its 45th birthday, according to a company announcement. For the launch, the casual dining chain created a branded hashtag challenge to encourage user-generated content.
- The #ChilisBirthday contest asks diners to post the best videos of people being surprised by the Chili's birthday song that its staff sings to customers. Chili's will award gift cards of $313 (in a nod to the chain's March 13 birthdate) to three TikTok users who post the most popular videos.
- In addition to the TikTok integration, Chili's will give away branded merchandise favorites such as its Skillet Queso bomber jacket and "I Feel God in this Chili's Tonight" T-shirt via social media throughout March.
Chili's is establishing a foothold on TikTok after observing that users of the social video app already have created 7,000 videos that cite the restaurant chain. The #Chilis hashtag has racked up 10 million mentions, a sign of organic popularity that the Brinker International brand can cultivate with a stronger, more focused presence on the social platform. By urging fans to create videos of customers' surprised reactions to the Chili's iconic birthday song, the chain may motivate people to visit one of its restaurants for their birthday celebrations.
Chili's is the latest brand to create an account on TikTok, which is forecast to boost its U.S. user base 22% to 45.4 million this year, per researcher eMarketer. That growth is mostly concentrated among younger audiences, including teens who spend multiple hours a day on the app. Dozens of U.S. brands have developed campaigns for TikTok, including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Mucinex cough medicine and Sony Pictures this year.
The restaurant chain's birthday campaign follows last month's "Out to 'Ita!" multichannel effort that aimed to make dining out more fun for families. Chili's promotion included a TV ad highlighting how the scintillating sounds of grilled fajitas and shaking margarita — the "itas" in the campaign's tagline — were similar to those used in trendy autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos. ASMR been used by brands including Bacardi, Reese and Sodastream in their recent marketing outreach.