Chili's hires Boyz II Men to sing new version of iconic baby back ribs jingle

Chili's is bringing back its "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...ribs" jingle

ByJordan Valinsky, CNN, CNNWire
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
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One of the most recognizable jingles in history is making a return.

Chili's is bringing back its "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...ribs" jingle for a new advertising campaign promoting the dish that's been a staple on the chain's menu since the late 1980s.

The chain has hired Boyz II Men to sing an updated version of the jingle, a nod to the misconception that many people might have thought the R&B group originally recorded it - around the same time their fourth studio album was released, "Evolution," which sold two million copies in the US.

The jingle, last used in the mid-2000s, became an earworm for anyone watching TV during the '90s when it seemingly blanketed the airwaves nonstop. Chili's is hoping that nostalgia will draw renewed interest in the restaurant chain that's in the midst of a turnaround.

Chili's is in a crowded field of chain restaurants all fighting for customers who aren't particularly loyal to any one brand. Stale menu offerings sent diners searching for fresher options in recent years, although the company has managed to boost sales recently with a revised lineup. Hoping to double down on its momentum, Chili's is ramping up its advertising this year.

The new TV ad, featuring Boyz II Men singing a modernized version of the jingle, will also be promoted on social media this month.

"It feels natural for us to rerelease the 'Baby Back Ribs' jingle and pay homage to Chili's legendary menu item in a nostalgic way," the group said in a release.

Jingle's origin

The original jingle was written by Guy Bommarito, an advertising creative director at GSD&M, who thought the tune would be "gone after six weeks," rather than have the staying power of nearly 30 years.

In a 2015 interview, he said that jingles used to be the "heart and soul of the entire industry" before they declined in interest by the 1990s because they were the "lowest common denominator form of advertising, and everyone avoided them because they were typically annoying and unpleasant."

However, Chili's insisted on making a jingle. Even Bommarito admitted that he was "embarrassed" by the assignment, so he wrote the jingle himself.

He later told Vice that after the commercial aired, sales of ribs would rise. "Every time for years that they put that spot on the television, they could juice sales because ribs would be sought out so much," he said.

The jingle was heavily used in the 90s before being retired in 2006. Chili's brought it back briefly in 2009 to promote a new recipe for its ribs.

The latest version is the "biggest rerelease of Chili's iconic earworm yet and doesn't stray too far from the original version," the chain said.

Chili's turnaround

Chili's is owned by Brinker International, which named former KFC US president Kevin Hochman as its CEO in 2022. Under his tenure, the 48-year-old chain has experienced a bit of a revival led by new menu items and increased advertising.

Brinker reported earnings earlier this month, revealing that Chili's same-store sales in the US rose 6% and that it reversed recent trends in which customers were ditching the restaurant in favor of other options. On the earnings call, Hochman said that customers are "definitely responding" to its new slate of value deals as well its revamped "Crispers" chicken tenders.

The brand plans more advertising this year, with this ribs campaign being a focal point for Chili's. Hochman said they're "encouraged by the sales results" following its previous campaigns.

Shares of Brinker (EAT) are up nearly 5% for the year.

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