For Chipotle’s latest marketing campaign, the team led by CMO Chris Brandt is going with the strategy that a picture is worth a thousand words.
The “For Real” campaign, which launched nationwide Monday in various media channels including traditional newspaper ads, shows images of 51 ingredients such garlic, honey, cloves and lemon juice. The tagline is: “The only ingredient that's hard to pronounce at Chipotle is 'Chipotle.'"
Brandt, who joined Chipotle earlier this year, about a month after CEO Brian Niccol, said the fast-casual chain is celebrating the fresh, non-processed foods served at nearly 2,500 restaurants daily.
It also brings the company, which this month relocated from its longtime Denver home base to Southern California, “back to our roots,” he said in a statement.
"Chipotle has always emphasized food prepared fresh daily in all of our restaurants and we wanted this campaign to highlight that, reflecting our real principles and 'real' as a way of acting in the world,” he said in a statement.
Pointing out complicated ingredient lists to consumers looking to eat healthful foods is a common marketing play made by fast casual companies and organic manufacturers. Chipotle, in fact, has played the better-for-you-food card before.
In 2016, the company made a game out of it with the launch of a short film titled, “A Love Story.”
The online game tested players’ memory skills and speed by matching up “real” Chipotle ingredients while avoiding the “imposters” that had added flavors or colors.
This time, Chipotle is not playing games. It is being boldly direct about serving food that is familiar and easy to pronounce.
Besides investing in pricey print ads, the For Real campaign is also featured on the company’s website and social media channels. On Instagram, the company launched a second account, called “ChipotleForReal.”
It is “designed to educate followers about each of Chipotle's 51 ingredients,” the company said.
“For 25 years, Chipotle has believed that there is a connection between how food is raised and prepared to how it tastes,” the company said. “These principles result in real flavors and real ingredients that are responsibly sourced. But real isn't just a way of sourcing, cooking, and eating. Real is a way of acting in the world. Chipotle stands for real food, real action and real change.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the For Real campaign is the biggest “campaign ever in terms of spending within a quarter.”
The For Real campaign comes after another food safety scare hit the brand.
Over the summer, faulty food temperature control was the likely cause of a foodborne illness outbreak that sickened hundreds of Chipotle customers in Ohio.
The outbreak, which impacted more than 600 people, prompted the chain to retrain hundreds of employees at more than 2,450 restaurants. Last week, the company said it had tapped Zenput to help managers remotely monitor operations, including food safety protocols.
Zenput’s app will help field leaders check dozens of food safety standards such as controls tied to temperatures, handwashing and employee wellness.
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