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Chili’s distributes location-based mobile coupons to drive foot traffic

July 29, 2010

Chilis offers free chips and salsa in exchange for checking in via Foursquare

Chili's offers free chips and salsa in exchange for checking in via Foursquare

Chili’s Grill & Bar claims to be the first national casual dining chain to offer a free item for a check-in via a mobile social network, a tactic designed to drive foot traffic into its restaurants.

At participating locations nationwide for a limited time only, Foursquare subscribers who check in at Chili’s will receive a free order of chips and house-made salsa. Participating locations will be demarcated on Foursquare with a “special offer” flag whenever a guest is within 200 yards of the restaurant.

“Chili’s Grill & Bar wanted to capitalize on the popularity of Foursquare to offer a cutting-edge incentive with our guests,” said Nicole Cochran, director of marketing at Chili’s Grill & Bar, Dallas, TX. “Additionally, our Foursquare offer is a unique way to leverage mobile marketing that is current and relevant.

“We feel this initiative is a great fit for our social and tech-savvy guests,” she said. “Chili’s has a strong base of social media followers, including our 400,000-plus Facebook friends.

“We also utilize our bloggers and advocate program to help promote this offer and encourage Foursquare’s 2 million users to take advantage of the deal.”

Chili’s Grill & Bar is the flagship restaurant brand of Dallas-based Brinker International Inc., which specializes in casual dining.

Chili’s has 1,499 locations in 30 countries and two territories.

Location-based mobile couponing
Chili’s hopes to position itself as an innovative brand by becoming the first national casual dining chain to offer a free item with every check-in on Foursquare, regardless if someone is a first-time or experienced user of the social networking application.

To unlock Chili’s chips and salsa offer with a coupon for instant redemption, guests check-in on Foursquare at participating Chili’s locations.

Here is a screen grab of the Chili’s offer on Foursquare:


Ms. Cochran said that with more than 2 million users and counting, Foursquare has given Chili’s a simple way to engage its tech-savvy brand fans.

As social media trends continue to change the landscape of how we interact, Foursquare gives Chili’s an opportunity to connect with its guests by offering them this appetizer on the house.

“Our call-to-action is simple, in that we want users to know there is a special offer available on Foursquare,” Ms. Cochran said. “If someone checks-in at Chili’s on Foursquare using their smartphone, our offer will be displayed on their screen.

“Additionally, if someone checks-in near a Chili’s location, they will receive the same notification about our offer as those who check-in at the restaurant,” she said. “This is a great way to drive traffic for people who are seeking dining options in the immediate area.

“With Foursquare, we have the opportunity to change how we interact and connect with our guests, as well as understand guest response and operational complexity.”

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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