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Chipotle highlights food philosophy in new ads

Chipotle highlights food philosophy in new ads

Chipotle Mexican Grill has rolled out a new marketing campaign that highlights its “Food with Integrity” philosophy and the executive behind it, founder and co-chief executive Steve Ells.

New radio commercials, a relaunched website and redesigned packaging all will emphasize Food with Integrity, Chipotle’s commitment to the responsible procurement of its ingredients, including meat that hasn’t been treated with growth hormones and produce from sustainable sources, the Denver-based chain said Wednesday.

In addition, Ells will play a big role as a judge and investor of NBC’s competitive reality show “America’s Next Great Restaurant,” hosted by Bobby Flay, in which aspiring restaurateurs battle to have their foodservice concepts funded and developed.

Food with Integrity’s focus on sustainability has been the backbone of Chipotle’s culinary philosophy since Ells opened the first location in 1993. The 1,000-unit chain now hopes to convey, according to one radio spot, that it “skips the conventions of fast food.”

“We think the time is right to focus more of our marketing on our commitment to finding the best sustainably raised ingredients we can,” said chief marketing officer Mark Crumpacker. “While we have never sourced these ingredients to be a marketing platform, it is what makes Chipotle so different from other restaurant companies, and we think people are more receptive to hearing it now than ever before. The more people know about the lengths we go to to source the best ingredients, the more likely they are to become loyal customers.”

That dedication to sourcing and the loyalty Chipotle hopes it inspires guided the design of the chain’s packaging, which now prints irreverent “passionate ramblings” in a handwritten font on bags and cups to tell the story of where customers’ food came from. The brand also expanded its website to teach visitors more about Food with Integrity and the positive changes that philosophy has effected.

“Our website and packaging have been underutilized as tools to help educate our customers,” Crumpacker said. “We have more than 30,000 visitors a day on our website and some 750,000 customers in our restaurants daily. That gives us a great opportunity to talk about the things that make Chipotle so unique in places where people are going to be receptive to learning more.”

Chipotle has tried to educate consumers about sustainable farming and foodservice before, as it did last summer by sponsoring and promoting the documentary “Food, Inc.” and offering free screenings.

With his participation in “America’s Next Great Restaurant,” Ells said he hopes to elevate his profile as “an obsessive chef” and Chipotle’s reputation as a progressive restaurant company.

“Our customers love Chipotle for a variety of reasons, mostly because the food tastes so good,” Ells said. “We think this new marketing approach will encourage new customers to try Chipotle and strengthen our bond with existing customers who don’t necessarily know that Food with Integrity is such an important part of our business. Whether food issues are particularly important to you or not, I think this new marketing will resonate with people. If nothing else, customers may learn that we care deeply about the food we serve.”

Chipotle created the new campaign in-house. However, in some of the print creative and radio commercials, it mentions “our ad agency” as an entity that the brand willfully ignores because it suggests boring, conventional advertising typical of restaurants.

Chipotle tapped Minneapolis-based Compass Point Media for media buying and planning, and San Francisco-based design firm Sequence helped update the chain’s website and packaging.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].

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