For those of you who did not spend years obsessing over The Office like I did, you may be wondering what the hubbub surrounding the Chili’s ban is all about. Earlier this week, Chili’s released an official statement lifting the permanent ban that was placed on one of show’s characters, Pam Beesly Halpert (played by Jenna Fischer).
The back-story: During one of the show’s more famous episodes—titled “The Dundies”—Pam gets banned from drinking too much at Chili’s and then shouting, “I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.”
On Monday, Fischer tweeted a picture of herself in front of one of their restaurants with the caption: “Should I try to go in?” Chili’s responded by tweeting, “@jennafischer we hope you felt God tonight.”
Chili’s followed up by tweeting out the link to the official statement about the release, which was then retweeted 4,200 times and liked 5,500 times within an hour of its posting. As of now, this tweet has been retweeted 43,446 times and has garnered 70,530 likes, exceeding everyone’s expectations.
What I think is most notable is that Chili’s approached its response in a strategic way. Fischer’s correspondence with Chili’s actually started on Sunday, when she tweeted out a picture of a mug that had her “I feel God in this Chili’s tonight” quote printed on it. She tagged Chili’s but Chili’s decided not to respond. “… we didn’t think it would be a great brand fit to reply," said Chili’s social media manager, Luz Infante.
As of late, Chili’s has begun to restructure the company in a way that will allow it to recognize new trends and alter its course quickly. The company has begun implementing three pillars of engagement which has resulted in a boost in stock from $4 to $60. In addition to this, Chris Ebbeler, who stepped into the role of director of social and community engagement for Chili’s in January, explained that Chili’s communications team is working especially hard to eliminate bureaucracy from its social channels.
Fischer’s tweet from Monday was something the brand knew it could have fun with, especially since the company is trying to lighten up and engage with the community more. And, as the numbers continue to indicate, it was a move in the right direction.
Oftentimes, great PR comes from having the wherewithal to capitalize on golden opportunities like these. Chili’s was able to get on board with a trending tweet and turn it into something bigger, sparking media attention that has now reached people outside of The Office fandom. Job well done.