Chili’s Grill & Bar Targets Enhanced CRM Program with VP of Marketing, Agency Additions

Brinker International said that the moves allow Chili's Grill & Bar to serve guests in a more compelling way as the brand revamps its digital presence.

Steve Kelly

Dallas-based restaurant company Brinker International has added industry veteran Steve Kelly as vice president of marketing and award-winning business agency GALE to assist with its CRM (customer relationship management) activities.

The company said that the two moves will allow Chili’s Grill & Bar to serve guests “in a more compelling way” as the brand revamps its digital presence.

“Steve is one of the most talented leaders I’ve worked with, and his diverse skillset will accelerate our marketing strategy,” George Felix, Chili’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Being a relevant and distinctive brand in culture requires a 360-degree focus, and his experience across multiple verticals makes him a natural choice for this role. Additionally, his personality and passion as a people leader are the perfect fit for our ChiliHead culture.”

Kelly is known for a strong digital strategy and creativity during his more than 15 years with Yum! Brands and will oversee key pillars of the Chili’s marketing strategy including CRM, loyalty, digital experience, third-party delivery, and paid media strategy and execution.

Chili’s CRM strategy and execution, as well as a modern makeover of the My Chili’s Rewards loyalty program are key tasks for Kelly.

Agency will bring data-driven approach

GALE, this year’s Adweek Breakthrough Media Agency of the Year, will provide its expertise in the space as agency of record, Brinker said.

The company said that GALE’s data-driven approach will bring enhanced personalization and a more modern feel to Chili’s customer interactions as well as an optimization of all activity to enable more relevant messaging to the Chili’s customer.

“Chili’s is an iconic brand and we’re hugely excited to join their journey of transformation at such a pivotal time,” GALE Managing Director Andrew Noel said in a statement. “There’s never been a more important time for brands to enrich the experiences of audiences, and the Chili’s team recognizes the true power of CRM to transform a business that will win market share.”

Chili’s said that GALE’s work with the company will cover strategy, creative, email, and digital activity, providing data and insights to align CRM activity with the brand’s marketing strategy.

“At Chili’s, each Guest interaction presents a chance to build a relationship that turns into repeat visits,” Kelly said. “GALE’s proven track record in leveraging CRM and loyalty to drive growth made them the perfect choice for this partnership. With success stories across Chipotle, H&R Block, and Hard Rock, GALE has demonstrated its ability to deliver exceptional results for renowned brands.”

Founded in 2014, GALE has offices in New York, Singapore, Toronto, Denver, Los Angeles, London, Austin, Kansas City, and Bengaluru, India.

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