In an impressive bit of investigative journalism, Vice Munchies tracked down the singer of the Chili’s Baby Back ribs jingle. They found out, among other things, he wrote the jingle in five minutes and… wait for it… he has NEVER eaten ribs at Chili’s.
Easy BBQ Short Ribs
Prep time: 10 min
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Arrange the short ribs in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and season with salt and...
From the interview with Guy Bommarito.
Hi, Guy! Does it bother you that I’m asking about a project you worked on two decades ago? Are you sick of hearing about the Chili’s song?
I’m not sick of it—it’s more just that I haven’t written that much music in my career, probably less than five pieces. In each case, there was an exception. The same thing with the Chili’s jingle. I only did it when we got into a situation where we had done a campaign that did so poorly they were going to fire us. We went up to Dallas and we begged them for a second chance. They said,
“We need a spot for baby back ribs in about six weeks, and we want it to be music in the restaurant.”
I was too embarrassed to go back to my department and give them the assignment, because it was really an awful assignment. This was a time when really good agencies would send out Christmas cards that would have a blank before the word “bells,” like “___ bells, ___ bells,” and when you’d open it up it would say “We don’t do jingles.”
That was the feeling at the time, that jingles were the lowest form of advertising and the lowest common denominator. Our department didn’t even do them, so I just did it myself so that no one would have to mess with it.
I wrote it in, like, five minutes. I presented it to the client, I just sang it to them, and they said, “Yeah, that sounds fine.” I called a friend of mine in Dallas—Tom Faulkner—and I asked if he would put it together for me. He recorded me over the phone and made it sound like a professional had actually done it. So it ran, and we thought that it would go away. And then months later, it ran again, and then after a couple of years, I had left the agency, and I got a call saying, “You know, your song is going to be in the new Austin Powers movie in two weeks.”
And I said, “What song?” I’ve been totally blown away by the popularity of the song and all of the places it’s appeared. It’s not so much that I’m angry about it, I’m kind of just like, how did this happen, why did this happen?
That’s the fascinating part. When people think of Chili’s, they immediately think of that song. I think it did a lot for the brand, you know? And a lot for baby back ribs.
I tell people: I’ve never had a Chili’s baby back rib, so you don’t necessarily have to try the product to write the song, I guess.
You’ve never eaten baby back ribs?
I’ve had ribs before, and I guess I’ve had baby back ribs before. But I’ve never had them at Chili’s. The whole thing was kind of this fluke that happened, because restaurants love having music over food, “bite and smile” kind of stuff, the way that Las Vegas loves slot machines.
It’s just part of who they are. It’s a really tough category, casual dining. The clients were even tougher, constantly pushing towards “I want to see more shots of people biting and smiling.”
Photo via Flickr user kurmanphotos