- Chipotle Mexican Grill chain participated at this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee by running its own Chipotle Bee, For Real contest, according to a press release.
- Held on a custom stage, the word challenges pitted Chipotle's 51 ingredients against 51 complex ingredients used at other restaurants. Competitive spellers had to spell one of each, such as "avocado," "beef" or "cheese" versus "carrageenan," "dimethylpolysiloxane" or "lecithin."
- The Chipotle Bee, For Real — part of the "Behind the Foil" campaign that focuses on the company’s use of natural ingredients — featured special pronunciation guidelines, definitions, origins and uses in a sentence. Prizes included exclusive Chipotle Bee pins, Chipotle Bee foil notebooks and Chipotle gift cards.
Chipotle has found a new way to emphasize its use of natural ingredients while also creating a unique brand experience, a tactic that is seeing lots of interest from brand marketers. Such real-world activations meet consumers' desire for interesting experiences and have the potential to drive earned impressions on social media. In Chipotle's case, the effort is also well integrated with its broader messaging around its use of simple, natural ingredients.
The "Behind the Foil" campaign launched in February, and promises a close-up and transparent look at the company's operations and ingredients. Created by the Venables Bell and Partners agency, it included TV spots by well-known documentary film director Errol Morris ("Fog of War," "The Thin Blue Line") that showed employees, the farmers who provide the raw ingredients and the chain's kitchens. The campaign has also included a two-hour live Facebook video feed of employees chopping ingredients.
Concurrent with the branding campaign, Chipotle is also ramping up its strategy with digital elements that are more loyalty and response driven, addressing how its online ordering continues to grow. A new push around the close of the current NBA season will see the chain blend TV, Twitter and SMS to hand out free burritos.
Chipotle's emphasis on transparency about its natural ingredients is part of the brand's continuing efforts to re-establish trust following some food safety issues in recent years.Last summer, for instance, customers fell ill after eating at a Chipotle's in Ohio, and there were a series of incidents involving E.coli and norovirus contamination three years earlier. After those events, the chain announced it was redoing it food preparation techniques, retraining all of its workers nationwide on food safety and bringing in a new executive to oversee the effort.