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Chipotle multichannel campaign aims to spread ingredient-focused message

March 2, 2011

Chipotle and mobile go hand-in-hand

Chipotle Mexican Grill is using a text-messaging short code as part of its “Unlimited Time Only” marketing program, which launched to celebrate the restaurant’s 18th anniversary.

Other parts of the campaign involve outdoor, radio and online elements, and the company’s intent is to increase awareness of the importance of using high-quality ingredients and sourcing local food when possible. While the burrito chain has a commerce-enabled iPhone application, incorporating SMS into a marketing campaign is a new tactic for Chipotle.

“From the beginning, Chipotle has been about using great quality ingredients for all of the food we serve, and constantly working to find better ingredients,” said Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle, Denver.

“But a lot of people, including many of our own customers, don’t understand the lengths we go to source better ingredients,” he said. “The campaign is designed to educate customers about our commitment to constantly improving the quality of the ingredients we use.”

Going mobile
For the mobile component of the campaign, Chipotle implemented a new menu panel featuring an SMS short code.

Customers can text the keyword GOLD to short code 888222 to learn more about Chipotle’s focus on ingredients.

“Using a short code as one of the campaign tactics gives us an opportunity to engage with people who are curious or want to know more about what we are doing and why we think it’s important,” Mr. Arnold said.

“It’s one more way to reach people and, in the way we are using it in the campaign, a way to reach them when they take some initiative to learn more,” he said. “It’s a great tool for that kind of interaction.”

Prior to this campaign, Chipotle’s foray into the mobile sphere has been relatively limited, with the exception of an application for Apple’s iPhone, which lets users place orders or find nearby restaurants.

“By incorporating a mobile component into advertising and other program elements, we have the opportunity to offer a deeper layer of messaging or content for people who take the initiative to learn something,” Mr. Arnold said.

Food with integrity
Chipotle has dubbed its dedication to using fresh ingredients as the “Food With Integrity” mission.

“This campaign is designed to educate customers about our commitment to constantly improving the quality of the ingredients we use,” Mr. Arnold said. “We hung that on the ‘unlimited-time offer’ idea to play with a convention that is so widely used in our industry, the ‘limited-time offer.’”

The company sources local and organic produce, and naturally raised meats. It also refuses to use dairy products that come from cows that are treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH, which is linked to infections and sickness.

During 2011, the company will source an estimated 10 million pounds of local produce.

The company claims to have served more naturally raised meat and local produce than any other restaurant company in the country.

The online campaign will also raise money for, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase the presence of locally grown food.

A billboard that features Chipotle’s gold burritos

Going for the gold
The next time you grab a burrito on the fly, it might be wrapped in gold. Beginning March 1, Chipotle swapped out its iconic silver foil for a more eye-catching gold.

The company expects to wrap up to 35 million burritos in gold foil during the four months it is running the promotion.

As another platform to share its food philosophy, Chipotle will publish “The Gold Burrito Digest,” a newspaper that will be available for free in its stores.

Also part of the “Unlimited Time Only” campaign is the “Wrap What You Love” contest, which invites users to send in photos of objects they love wrapped in gold foil.

The most creative submissions can win $10,000 or 24-karat solid gold Chipotle burrito coins.

“We get tremendous participation from programs like this, and will be looking forward to seeing what people come up with,” Mr. Arnold said.

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