Last Updated on March 10, 2020
Chipotle has long been known for their marketing ideas. Recognizing the need to be competitive, the restaurant uses creative marketing techniques to ensure that it gets its piece of the pie. Chipotle realized that there was a great cause marketing opportunity in issues surrounding sustainability, animal welfare and, generally, food origins, which are all issues the chain was founded on. Below is a list of ingenious marketing ideas that Chipotle has used in the past.
Restaurant Marketing Ideas from Chipotle
1. The Cultivate Festival
The Cultivate Festival is a one day festival that was held in Chicago. The festival featured bands, films, chefs and farmers. Chipotle used the bands to get the crowds to come in, while the food promoted their sustainable, family-farming message. They also used films that depicted factory farming and a hog “gestation crate” that people could crawl inside to reinforce the negatives. The capacity of the venue was 12,000 people, but 16,000 attended.
2. Word of Mouth Marketing
Before the days of the internet, thousands of TV channels, and smartphones, a lot of places relied on word of mouth as their primary form of advertising. To this day, Chipotle does not advertise in the mass media. Why? Because Chipotle does hundreds of millions of dollars in business each year without funneling large amounts of money into the mass media advertising machine. Chipotle also uses clever types of neuromarketing to get the customer to have burritos on the brain. The simple ad that we see so often may not be so simple after all. One study asked random people what they thought of when the saw the type of font that Chipotle billboards use and 85% associated it with Chipotle.
As the story goes, when M. Steven Ells, Chipotle’s founder and chief executive opened his first store in Denver in 1993, he only had $85,000 to cover everything. His budget proved to be a little too tight to invest in even one ad. Ells, who is a Culinary Institute of America trained Chef, was a believer in the fact that the food should sway the customer, not the advertising. As a result, he regularly gave away Chipotle meals in the Denver area. For example, when the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was on trial in Denver in 1997, there were dozens of reporters camped outside of the courthouse, so he regularly delivered free food to the reporters. Giveaways would become part of the marketing for Chipotle. When Chipotle came to midtown Manhattan, they gave away burritos to 6,000 people, some of whom stood in line for 2 hours. Chipotle’s marketing director, James W. Adams stated that this gimmick cost Chipotle $35,000, but they gained 6,000 new spokespeople for the price of what an ad might have cost in the New York Times.
4. Twitter Fail, or Marketing Genius?
In July of this year, Chipotle Twitter followers encountered a bunch of really interesting tweets from Chipotle. The immediate reaction was that Chipotle was experimenting with its social engagement tool, or that maybe it was trying to use voice control features. Whatever the reason, this what followers saw:
The tweets asked weird questions and even gave away their password. A Chipotle employee named Kate assured the twitter universe that the tweets were clues for the adventurrito puzzle. Whatever the reason for these tweets, it got a lot of people talking about Chipotle.