Digitas Grabs Chili's Digital Account, Agency of Record Status

Creative Incumbent Hill Holliday Loses Some Business

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Casual-dining chain Chili's has awarded Publicis Groupe 's Digitas its digital marketing account after a review.

The digital agency-of -record account, a first for Chili's, will include digital-media planning and -buying, customer-relationship marketing, social media and mobile, display, search marketing, website design, and analytics and measurement.

Other finalists in the review were Publicis sibling Moxie, Atlanta, and Omnicom Group's Marketing Arm, Dallas. Chili's creative agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill Holliday, also participated in the review. Hill Holliday was handling display and search buying and planning, but lost that business to Digitas; it will remain its agency for strategy and broadcast advertising. Chili's also worked with an assortment of agencies for email marketing, website development and social media.

"In the post digital-age, it is critical that Chili's continues to embrace and adopt innovative, digitally-led marketing programs to better connect and engage with our existing and future customers," said Krista Gibson, senior VP-brand strategy, Chili's. "We are pleased to partner with Digitas. They understand our challenges and opportunities and bring an integrated marketing offering, with a strong digital foundation."

"We are thrilled to partner with a customer-loving brand like Chili's," said Colin Kinsella, president-Digitas North America. "We admire their commitment to their consumers and their progressive approach to marketing and customer management. We look forward to bringing our digital-at-the-heart experiences, our brightest talent and best thinking to this very valued relationship."

Dallas-based Brinker International, Chili's parent company, in 2010 spent $125 million in U.S. measure media, according to Kantar, which is the bulk of Brinker's overall advertising budget.

Brinker International is also the parent company of Maggiano's Little Italy. Brinker in July 2010 sold On the Border to OTB Acquisition, an affiliate of San Francisco-based private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital. In late 2008, Brinker sold Macaroni Grill to Mac Acquisition, also an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital. Brinker's website says it still maintains a minority stake in Macaroni Grill.

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