I think everyone has that one friend on Instagram who posts a picture of a burrito with one bite out of it still in it’s tinfoil wrapper. Heck, you can type “chipotle burrito” into Google and you’ll find most of the images are exactly what I explained. This is perfectly fine, but as I pondered taking a burrito pic of my own bundle of tortilla, chicken, guac, rice, cheese, and sour cream last week I wondered
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“How does a regular burrito become something that is so easily shareable?”
You’ve taken one of these, admit it.
Chipotle does use quality ingredients, creative and snarky humor in packaging, pretty quick service and a good atmosphere. But honestly, is it that much better any other burrito chain out there? I firmly believe Chipotle burritos are shareable because they are so good at creating loyalty in customers through awesome marketing. And they don’t do it with traditional big budget TV ads or radio spots, either.
Back to the Start
The first time I noticed Chipotle marketing aside from seeing their physical stores was in their first national TV ad that ran during the Emmy’s last year for 2(!) minutes. It features a stop-motion story of a small farmer who bucks the trend of turning his farm into a component of the dark world of industrialized agriculture. Willie Nelson covering “The Scientist” by Coldplay, too, which is awesome in itself.
The video hit me right in the feels and amazed me that a huge corporation like Chipotle would base their business off responsibly sourcing their ingredients and consistently proving to customers that they need to know where their food comes from, as well. This video hits on something that all brands need to do when pursuing a digital strategy: stay true to your message and company philosophy, make people think, and delight customers with something that evokes an emotional response (laughter, surprise, tenderness, etc.).
Recently, Chipotle has turned out another video of a computer-generated scarecrow who becomes sick of an industrialized food plant he works and starts his own fresh-grown produce company right outside of that plant. Obviously, the scarecrow is a proxy for Chipotle in trying to change the sourcing of produce and the plant is Big Ag. The video went viral and has over 6 million views as of today. Again, Chipotle tries to hit people in the feels (look into the eyes of the cow ) and encourage responses while shedding light on something people don’t usually think about.
What’s even cooler about the scarecrow video is that Chipotle released a mobile game themed around the scarecrow’s story. This really made the geeky nerd in me come out. Who the heck comes out with a legit engaging game paired with an entertaining video?!
The people at Chipotle marketing are really smart. Farming games like FarmVille, Farm Story, and Hay Day are all seeing millions of downloads and major engagement with in-app purchases and cult-like followings. Why not make a game like that to engage Chipotle’s target market (millennials), educate them, and expose them to the Chipotle brand in a positive light at the same time? The app is beautiful and people are noticing. It’s genius.
What does this show us? If you go out of your way and give people quality content and educate them they’ll reward you with top-of-mind recognition. Also, telling a great story about your brand will set it apart.
Changing the game by: providing hands-on and entertaining media experiences integrated with a story that provokes an emotional response.
Putting the “Ideal” in Social Media
See that anagram? Nbd.
In an interview with Mashable, Chipotle’s New Media Manager, Joe Stupp, explained the way the company goes about handling their social media strategy. Unlike many large companies, Chipotle is committed to a “one-on-one engagement model.” They respond to around 85-90% of all Facebook and Twitter posts and they make a point to have conversations. This is also all with just three employees and without using any social media management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Although I don’t recommend not measuring any of your social media activity; I think Chipotle sheds light on the fact that social media should be used for conversing one-on-one with people. Companies are thought of as entities that aren’t capable of interacting with customers beyond the point of purchase. If you build goodwill behind your brand on social media and interact with people like Chipotle the customers come.
Changing the game by: treating social media users like humans.
If viral animated ads and perfect social media execution don’t get you excited, maybe an epic contest with a grand prize of 20 years of free burritos will.
I, like hundreds of thousands of others, registered for Chipotle’s online treasure hunt, the Adventurrito, in pursuit of the grand prize of 20 years full of burrito bliss. Everyday for 20 straight days Chipotle posted a video clue about unique aspects of the company and it’s mission. Each clue had to be submitted in order to access the final challenge for all the chips (no pun intended).
One problem that I noticed was that people would answer questions and post the answers on social media and even on user-created sites like chipotloco.com. Personally, I didn’t really mind that there was cheating. It was bound to happen anyways and if people are creating their own sites to engage with their contest I think they have to be doing something right.
This contest was great because it created a buzz around the brand. Their website even crashed multiple times because so many people wanted to participate. I don’t have any numbers on impressions or site visits, but it had to be huge. Over 300,000 we’re registered for the contest before it even started. Wrap your mind around that!
The lesson: find something to offer customers that gets them excited and build that excitement through social media and in your physical stores.
Changing the game by: creating buzz around a contest and offering crazy prizes.
Chipotle is definitely changing the game and is leading a trend in the marketing world of including digital into the marketing mix, which I think gives them a huge advantage over any restaurant chain.