Chili’s forgot to promote its new chicken sandwich

Ad campaign leaves me asking ‘where’s the chicken?’

Brinker International

Chili’s just released a new chicken sandwich designed for fast food fans, but you’d have to read the press release carefully to know that.

The foodservice chain announced the Crispy Chicken sandwich as part of its 3 For Me menu, but dedicates most of its promotion on the Big Smasher burger, which it says “has twice the beef of a Big Mac.”

A quarter of the release is spent describing the Big Smasher, while the Crispy Chicken sandwich gets only three words – not even a description.

Chili’s chief marketing officer (CMO) doesn’t even mention the Crispy Chicken sandwich.

"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.

"We believe that Chili's 3 For Me offers better value than you'll find in any drive-thru and, with the all-new Big Smasher burger, we just made the 3 for Me even better. We believe our guests can enjoy better quality, better pricing and a better experience every time." 

Where’s the chicken?

Although it’s clear to me that Chili’s is targeting McDonald’s with this campaign, I’ve still got to misquote an old Wendy’s ad by asking ‘where’s the chicken?’ I have nothing against the Big Smasher, but I believe that Chili’s would be doing itself a big disservice by not promoting the Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

To understand why, let’s look at McDonald’s whose chicken sandwich was ironically also originally known as the Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

It took the quick service restaurant brand some trial and error and a rebrand to the McCrispy for success to come, but it did come. In early 2024, CEO Chris Kempczinski announced that chicken sandwich and chicken nugget sales now equaled that of beef burgers.

By not promoting its own Crispy Chicken sandwich, Chili’s could be wasting a similar opportunity for sales growth and success.

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