- Chipotle will air its first national TV ad starring a professional athlete to promote its largest celebrity-inspired menu to date, according to an announcement. The spot will premiere on July 5 during the U.S. Women's National Team soccer game against Mexico.
- The spot profiles Julie Ertz, defensive midfielder on the U.S. Women's National Team, as she hits the gym and details her preferred Chipotle meal. Ertz is among several ambassadors participating in Chipotle's "Unwrapped" digital video content series, the latest round of which goes deeper into the training routines of athletes as they prep for big competitions.
- Each "Unwrapped" partner created a custom menu order that is available exclusively on the Chipotle app and website. With buzz around the Olympics building, Chipotle is angling to highlight its health benefits and positioning around real ingredients while sustaining a digital sales boom.
Chipotle is putting more marketing muscle behind athlete ambassadorships as it tries to highlight the health and performance benefits of its food. While the campaign isn't explicitly tied to the Olympics, many of the partners, including Ertz, biker Kate Courtney and volleyball player Alix Klineman, are expected to perform at the Tokyo games this summer. The "Unwrapped" ambassadors, all of whom perform in the U.S., are also billed as "Team Chipotle." More marketers are ramping up their Olympics strategies after the games were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic last year, and even as concerns around hosting the event linger.
The news shows Chipotle continuing to expand a focus on custom orders curated by celebrities and influencers whom consumers pay close attention to on social media. Ertz's go-to order previously featured as an official digital menu item in July 2019, per the release. Tellingly, the athlete-inspired menu is exclusive to the mobile and digital sales channels experiencing explosive growth as ordering habits adopted during the pandemic stick. Digital sales accounted for half of Chipotle's total mix in the first quarter of 2021.
Chipotle has adapted the custom menu concept to fit particular events and target different consumer demographics. The quick-service restaurant (QSR) this month is celebrating Pride by featuring the preferred orders of celebrity drag queens on its app and website. The initiative comes as part of a Queen of Pride competition running through June 16 that supports LGBTQ organizations.
Other QSRs centered on healthy eating are taking a similar tack. Fast-casual chain Sweetgreen recently debuted its first athlete partnership through a national campaign with tennis pro Naomi Osaka that includes her favorite salad bowl.
But the restaurant category at large is betting bigger on celebrity clout to drive consumer interest in digital and mobile ordering. McDonald's has introduced several star-studded partnerships centered on its menu, most recently a special promotion around the K-pop group BTS. The BTS tie-up includes weekly content drops available exclusively on the McDonald's app. Meanwhile, Taco Bell has called out restaurants that have offered "someone else's favorites" as menu items while promoting its own digital and mobile efforts.