A Risky Idea Pays Off for Chili’s


Asset Liquidity


Chili’s Chicken Crispers are a kids’ favourite, but why shouldn’t adults enjoy them too? The restaurant chain’s new commercial from agency Mischief takes that insight and runs with it, in a glorious demonstration of creativity and lateral thinking. From the starting point of “adults deserve a Chicken Crisper”, they end up here, with a stern businesswoman interviewing bewildered children to find out if they truly deserve the crispy chicken treats. (Spoiler: they don’t).

The series of surreal questions – from enquiries about asset liquidity and inflation to stopovers in Denver Airport – is greeted with sweet innocence from the kids, and it’s that response which makes an edgy ad effective. This is a great concept for an ad but a perilous one when it comes to execution – it would be really easy for audiences to feel uncomfortable or sad that the kids are being questioned harshly or denied their treats. Which would lead to negative feelings, and a less effective commercial.

Instead the questions are so surreal, the questioner so comically self-righteous, and the kids so cute, that the whole ad is absurd enough to work, building amusement with no bad vibes creeping in. The ad has a strong sense of place – even if that place is an office interview room – and there’s a lot of human between-ness and non verbal communication even if the nature of that communication is entirely ridiculous. Those elements help capture the broad-beam, right-brain attention that builds effectiveness.

There’s even a nice punchline to the ad, with the tagline “You Deserve Them” completing itself with “More Than Kids Do” – explaining the very odd scenes we’ve been witnessing, and making the ad end on a call to action.

It’s a smart, dryly humorous ad that respects the audience’s patience and intelligence, and it’s great to see that approach perform well with ordinary viewers. Chili’s land a strong 4.1-Star score for their ad, well above the US average, and follow it up with strong Brand Fluency and an exceptional short-term Spike Rating. It’s a vote of confidence in the brand, the power of an insight, and the brilliance of creatives who can take that insight in directions nobody could have anticipated. Treats all round, then.

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