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Part 2: How Chili's Used Cause-Related Marketing to Raise $8.2 million for St. Jude

[Bloggers Note: In this second half of this post I discuss the nuts and bolts of how Chili's motivates support from its employees and managers and how St. Jude 'activates' support from Chili's. Read the first half here.]


How does St. Jude motivate support from Chili’s front line employees and management alike? They call it ‘activation’ and they do so by the following:
  • They share stories of St. Jude patients who were sick and got better thanks to the services they received at the hospital. Two stories in particular are personal for Chili’s staff.
  • A Chili’s bartender in El Dorado Hills, California named Jeff Eagles has a younger brother who was treated at St. Jude. In both 2005 and 2006 Eagles was the campaign’s biggest individual fundraiser.
  • John Griffin, a manager at the Chili’s in Conway, Arkansas had an infant daughter who was treated for retinoblastoma at St. Jude.
  • They drew on the support Doug Brooks… the president and CEO of Brinker International, Chili’s parent company… who already sat on St. Jude’s board. The national campaign begin out of local effort at seven Chili’s locations in Memphis.
  • Chili’s executive meetings have been held in Memphis, Tennessee… where St. Jude is headquartered… and Chili’s employees are always invited and encouraged to tour the hospital. Likewise regional Chili’s management meetings are held in Memphis.
  • Chili’s kicks-off the campaign by sending executives to Memphis to cook dinner for patients.
  • Internally, the Create-A-Pepper campaign receives the same emphasis as any other employee-based marketing initiative. In fact, St. Jude messaging and Create a Pepper are integrated into Chili’s menus, to-go bags, coloring books, crayons, even employee recruitment advertising.
Efforts are also made by Chili’s to incentivize employees to do their best.
  • Top daily performers from each shift get $5 grab bags that includes gas gift cards, movie tickets, and the like.
  • The company provides travel vouchers worth $1,000 for each of their operational regions. Servers who raise $200 or more are entered into a drawing for one of the travel vouchers. For every additional $100 they raise, they can earn an additional entry in the drawing.
  • The chain’s overall top server gets $2,500 travel voucher. In 2007, the top server generated $27,423, more than five times as much as the typical Chili’s restaurant raises!
St Jude recognizes the Chili’s contributions in numerous ways:
  • Naming rights to the hospital’s diagnostic imaging center.
  • Recognition on St. Jude’s website.
  • Public relations efforts with a special emphasis on restaurant trade publications.
  • Named Chili’s their “Corporate Partner of the Year.”
  • Featured Chili’s at their annual “Partner Summit.”
One final point worth making. Because St. Jude has on staff PR and design folks, web and IT pros, marketing people, videographers and photographers, they can quickly put out press releases, video, pictures, or publish a micro site, although they still rely on their partners to fully ‘activate’ sponsorships.

In my view the Create a Pepper campaign is a tour de force.

Bravo to Chili’s and St. Jude.

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