Chili’s Creates A Nostalgic Marketing Moment to Reach Millennial Customers

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Chili’s is back with a new commercial, this time served up with a side of nostalgia.

The brand’s infamous “I want my baby back ribs” commercials of the Y2K era were classics (the *NSYNC commercial in particular lives rent-free in my head). Now, the restaurant chain is reminiscing on that time period in its latest commercial starring singer Brian McKnight.

The ad depicts a waiter named Brian who closely resembles McKnight (but insists he isn’t) serenading his customers to the tune of the singer’s 1999 hit “Back At One.” Spoiler alert: the waiter is indeed Brian McKnight.

If the video’s comment section on YouTube is any indication, Chili’s knocked it out of the park connecting with its ideal customer. Comments on the video are overwhelmingly positive, with users commenting on how nostalgic the video was.

In recent years Chili’s has zeroed in on millennials, particularly those with young families, as its target demographic. If there’s anything marketers have learned about reaching millennials, it’s that nostalgia sells.

Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, are a generation of people who are on top of most internet trends while still being old enough to remember the “before times” — the days before technology was at the center of our interactions.

When brands are able to recreate moments that are reminiscent of the past through a modern digital lens, it can be an effective way to reach millennial customers.

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