- Chipotle Mexican Grill quickly sold out of T-shirts that people can scan with their smartphone cameras to reach a voter registration website. The burrito chain's "Chi-Vote-Le" shirts have a pepper-shaped QR code on the sleeve that points to the TurboVote platform run by nonprofit Democracy Works, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Chipotle sold the shirts at its Chipotle Goods online store for $11.03, a reference to the election date of Nov. 3, in a variety of sizes. It will donate to Democracy Works to support the group's efforts to simplify voting and ensure no one misses an election, per the site.
- The brand turns unique branded merchandise into a mechanism for political engagement through mobile technology. After scanning the QR code, mobile users see a microsite with Chipotle's branding that asks people to enter their name and email to receive reminders on when to vote and the location of a local polling place.
Chipotle's depleted inventory for its "Chi-Vote-Le" shirts suggests the restaurant chain saw a strong response to its get-out-the-vote effort with Election Day less than five weeks away. While creating unique branded merchandise is a common marketing strategy, the Chipotle shirt is notable for urging customers to be more politically engaged, especially younger consumers who are a key target for its other promotional efforts. Millennials and Generation Z will make up 37% of the U.S. electorate this year, up from about 32% in 2016, according to Pew Research Center, making younger adults a bigger constituency this year. This could be why a number of brands have launched efforts to drive voting this year, including Absolut and Patagonia.
Chipotle's effort is also notable for integrating physical merchandise with a digital platform through the use of a QR code. The scannable codes had seen fading interest among marketers because of creative restrictions with the format and a lack of technical standards. However, Chipotle's QR code is in the shape of a chipotle pepper, matching its logo, which is one sign that designers now have greater flexibility in incorporating them into their branding.
QR codes have experienced a resurgence in the past few years with improvements to smartphone cameras, giving marketers a way to engage consumers in a variety of settings. Brands are taking notice, as seen in recent campaigns such as one by cough medicine Mucinex that uses QR codes printed on its bottles that can be scanned to watch a TV spot and place an online order. Other recent examples include Burger King's commercials during the MTV Video Music Awards that urged viewers to scan a QR code to activate an immersive augmented reality (AR) experience. By providing a direct response mechanism on smartphones, QR codes have a variety of applications for mobile marketers.