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Chipotle energy design.jpg Photo courtesy of Chipotle
Chipotle was recognized as one of Time's most influential global companies in part because of its ESG efforts.

Taco Bell, Chipotle named two of the most influential companies in the world

Taco Bell and Chipotle are the only two restaurant companies on Time’s top 100 list, and just the third since its inception in 2021.

What does Chipotle have in common with Kim Kardashian?

More than you might think. Both are listed on the Time100 Most Influential Companies list, which is broken down into five categories: leaders, disruptors, innovators, titans and pioneers. Chipotle (and Kardashian) are both on the leaders list. Taco Bell, meanwhile, is also on the list, identified as an innovator.

What does it mean? Well, Time first launched this project in 2021 to highlight “businesses and leaders shaping our future.” To curate, Time solicited nominations across sectors and polled its global network of contributors and correspondents, as well as outside experts, then evaluated each company based on several factors such as “impact” and “success.”

What does it mean for Chipotle and Taco Bell, specifically? For starters, the list was developed from a global network and both companies have a nominal international presence, so their “influence” as defined by this measure is deeply domestic. Additionally, the only other restaurant company to appear on Time’s list since its inception is Yum China, in 2021, though several adjacent companies have appeared, including Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and DoorDash.

In addition to Kardashian, who was recognized for company Skims, Chipotle and Taco Bell join heavyweights like OpenAI, Nvidia, TikTok, Disney, Major League Baseball, Crocs, Google DeepMind, Hugging Face, M-Kopa, Patagonia, The North Face, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft and IBM, among others.


Chipotle was praised by Time for “helping farmers switch to organic produce, using renewable energy, composting and directly tying bonuses to ESG Goals.”  Chipotle first announced its carbon footprint reduction goal in late 2021, aiming to shrink its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 from a 2019 base year. And, earlier this year, the company unveiled what it is calling a new “responsible restaurant design” using energy-efficient equipment and systems, and 100% renewable energy from wind and solar power.

Also, Time recognized Chipotle’s marketing efforts, garnering 2.2 million followers on TikTok, launching a Roblox experience and generating its second highest sales day ever with a burrito giveaway on Twitter. Chipotle recently pushed the gas on its TikTok strategy, launching a fajita quesadilla line inspired by TikTok creators Keith Lee and Alexis Frost. During the launch, the company nearly doubled its quesadilla business and had two of its top digital business sales days of all time. The items are now permanent.

We worked with two popular TikTok food reviewers, who made the idea go viral at the start of the year and leveraged our strength in digital marketing and culinary to creating exciting new menu items utilizing all existing ingredients. The results have been outstanding,” CEO Brian Niccol said during the company’s Q1 earnings call in April.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell, meanwhile, was recognized for being a “case study in effective marketing. It has mastered relatable humor and celebrity partnerships over the past year, and it’s paying off.” Time pointed to the Doja Cat/Mexican Pizza campaign as an example, helping to drive $45 million in sales and an 8% sales lift.

Taco Bell has also found success with its Pete Davidson partnership, which Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs credited for driving consumer buzz and strong transaction growth during the breakfast daypart late last year. And, the company just announced a new partnership with Paris Hilton to support the return of the Volcano Menu for the first time since 2013.

Further, Taco Bell was credited with launching a drag-brunch tour across five states, “as a growing number of U.S. states introduced bills restricting drag performances.” The tour bolstered sales in 2022, the company has noted.

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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