Chipotle ad

Chipotle turns to humor for ads

“As Real As It Gets” campaign is the chain’s first national campaign

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is turning to humor in its bid to win back customers lost over the past 18 months.

The Denver-based burrito chain on Monday revealed its first national television campaign in years, “As Real As It Gets,” with videos featuring comedians “getting real” in a lounge inside a giant burrito.

The ads feature Sam Richardson, Jillian Bell and John Mulaney sharing their fears, desires and secrets inside the burrito. The campaign, developed by Venables Bell & Partners, also features radio, outdoor, digital video and banners, along with social advertising.

“In a world full of fakery and half-truths, it’s invigorating to hear a brand tell it like it is,” Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer for Chipotle, said in a statement. “The campaign challenges the conventions of fast food advertising by being completely real — not only about our food, but about the world we live in — and does so with an optimism and playful humor that’s very much in line with our brand.” 

The national campaign is Chipotle’s first national television ad since it bought a two-minute spot during the Grammys in 2012 for its Back to the Start ad. Last year, the company tested television ads in some markets, but this represents a broader use of video, the company said. 

Chipotle’s decision to go national with a television campaign follows a difficult 2016 for the chain. Same-store sales declined more than 20 percent, and revenues fell 13.3 percent, as Chipotle recovered slowly from the fallout of a series of foodborne illness outbreaks in 2015.

The company has focused on the quality of its ingredients as part of its comeback effort. Chipotle recently announced that it rolled out new tortillas used for burritos, tacos and chips that eliminated the use of preservatives. The company says it now uses only 51 real ingredients “that are readily available at a farmer’s market or grocery store.” 

The lounge inside the Chipotle features a pianist playing relaxing music, along with a roaring fireplace and comfortable seating.

In one ad, actor Jeffrey Tambor, who is not seen, tells actress Jillian Bell that, “You’re inside a Chipotle burrito, where everything is real.” Bell responds by telling him about how she hates the ocean because sharks ate her entire family when she was a child, and the ocean “keeps sharks alive.”

In another, a nervous Sam Richardson tells Tambor that he’s a terrible driver, an avid scrapbooker, doesn’t trust the space program and that his socks get tight when he’s nervous.

“We set out to avoid all the conventions of fast food advertising,” Will McGinness, partner and executive creative director at Venables Bell & Partners. “Using humor and a commitment to telling it like it is, we cut through the clutter of confusing claims, limited time offers or farmers holding produce, and created a campaign that is very true to who they are.” 

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

TAGS: Fast Casual
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