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Chris Ebbeler, Sr. Mgr. Workplace Community & People Branding at Chili’s Bar & Grill, answers this question with a resounding, “YES!”
I recently met with Chris and enjoyed listening to him reminisce about the first time he experienced Summer Brand Camp.
Chris confided that, “When I heard about the seminar, I thought it was going to be just another conference with overbaked chicken and talking heads. I was so wrong.”
At the time, Chris enjoyed his job. But like so many of us, he was stuck in a bit of a rut. He had the feeling that he was simply going through the motions of his daily routine. His colleagues urged him to attend Summer Brand Camp
At Chris’ first Summer Brand Camp, Greg Creed, the former CEO of Taco Bell (and now the CEO of Yum! Brands) led a session on the brand’s culture and values. Taco Bell had just emerged from a public relations nightmare. This was just after the infamous selfie of an employee licking a stack of taco shells. The picture made it onto Taco Bell’s Facebook page and went viral.
Creed told a marketing story that resonated with Chris. A small town in Bethel, Alaska, started a rumor that Taco Bell was opening a store in town. Bethel is only accessible by road and air, and although it has a population of 6,000 it can’t support a Taco Bell.
Creed showed a video of Taco Bell using a helicopter to airlift a food truck to the city. Creed elaborated on the video and explained that it was a new world. Companies needed to learn new ways to market. Instead of running old school ad campaigns that were carefully measured for ROI, Creed unleashed a group of 20-year-olds to manage Taco Bell’s social media. He didn’t tell then what to do. He let go of that management style. Instead he trusted his employees.
Summer Brand Camp had a profound impact on Chris. Chris realized that his job needed to have purpose, and that marketing must be relevant and have something meaningful to say. Otherwise no one will listen and no one will care.
The transparency and audacity of Creed’s presentation inspired Chris. With tears in his eyes, he turned to one of his colleagues and said, “What’s going on here? Have we lost our minds?” Chris realized that Summer Brand Camp was the only place on earth where he could be with other professionals in the restaurant industry – including his competitors — and learn to infuse meaning into his work. As he put it, “We compete with each other seven days a week. For the three days of Summer Brand Camp, that’s not what it’s about. Instead, Summer Brand Camp challenges all of us by asking: What can we do to improve our industry? What can we do to make the world a better place?”
Shortly after Summer Brand Camp concluded, the impact really sank in. Chris realized that Creed had it right, and that the company needed to make major changes. If it didn’t, Chris intended to find another place to work. So, he met with his VP and shared his thoughts and insights.
The Chili’s team understands how people, profits, and the planet all collide for the brand, and they continue to explore and support the journey towards a more purpose-driven culture. As you can imagine, this isn’t a short journey, especially given the size of the company. Chris and the Chili’s team return to Summer Brand Camp each year to renew their commitment, reflect on their progress, and learn from other presenters and participants.
Want to know more about Brand Camp? Check out the video below, and join us today April 16 at 2PM CT for our #SBrandCamp Twitter Chat!
HR Virtuoso is a proud sponsor of the 2015 Summer Brand Camp. Come join us and share in this life changing experience!