28 October, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: I'll Take a Fajita Burrito with a Side of Social Responsibility

It was cold, and it was dark, and we were standing outside...wrapping each other in tinfoil for free burritos. On Halloween, Chipotle Mexican Grill does their "Boorito" promotion. If you come in on October 31, dressed as a burrito, you get a free, well, burrito! My friends and I have participated for years. The costumes range from elaborate tinfoil suits to simple tinfoil bracelets. This year, however, Chipotle is mixing it up a bit.

For Boorito 2010, instead of coming dressed as a burrito (wearing varying amounts of tinfoil), Chipotle is asking people to come dressed as a "horrifying processed food product." When you come dressed as a "horrifying processed food product," you can get a burrito for a discounted price of $2. Chipotle has promised to donate up to one million dollars from the Halloween proceeds to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

Chipotle has taken what was a playful promotion and upped the ante considerably. Though honorable, is this really a good move marketing-wise?

Jamie Oliver is a celebrity chef and health food advocate who is dedicated to helping people eat healthier. His Food Revolution is aimed at changing how Americans eat (you mean a box of Twinkies a night is bad for me?). A big part of Chipotle's identity is that all their ingredients are naturally raised and never processed, so it makes sense that they would team with Jamie to help raise awareness about processed vs. organic food.

Chipotle is one of the largest food chains in the country to be fully dedicated to organic ingredients. I will venture so far as to say that Chipotle could be a case study on how to operate a large, organically focused food chain. With Boorito 2010, they are going the extra step, advocating for a cause they believe in. It shows them as socially conscious and willing to sacrifice for it.

The fast food industry is continuing to get knocked over health concerns, so Chipotle's fresh, caring image is something they are wise to play up. This promotion with Jamie Oliver has the potential to build extra awareness about Chipotle's practices concerning their delicious food and hopefully bring in new customers to eat said food. Continuing to get their name associated with health food causes is a big step toward this.

However, Chipotle could catch some backlash from consumers over the change.

The problem is, despite it being for a good cause, a lot of people will be upset that the burritos are no longer free and that the costume requirements have gotten more demanding. People can no longer put some tin foil on their head and get free food. A few of my friends didn't even know about Jamie Oliver's involvement or the donation. All they had heard, via word-of-mouth, was that what was once free was now $2.

Chipotle is going to have to work hard to make sure people get the full story. They have sent out mailers, made a Youtube video with Jamie (see the bottom of this post), and put up a page on their Facebook, all of it explaining the Boorito 2010 promotion. The social media push was an especially good idea because most of previous years' Boorito participants have been us millennials. It’s a good outreach, but come this year’s Allhallows Eve, we’ll see how well it worked.

I think this promotion is a smart move. They took a promotion that was essentially bringing them nothing besides tinfoil to clean up, and turned it into something that could move their whole brand forward in consumer’s minds. There is the risk that some people won’t come out this year because of the price, but overall, the potential gains vastly outweigh the potential backlash. I’ll be there and I plan on dressing as some good ol’ high-fructose corn syrup! No, I haven’t thought through the logistics of that yet.

-- Kyle Sacks, High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Intern Sweatshop: I'll Take a Fajita Burrito with a Side of Social ResponsibilitySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

4 others 'fessed up:

Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville October 29, 2010 at 12:22 PM  

Definitely think it's a smart move. Granted, I'm a crunchy organic eating foodie with a vendetta against high fructose corn syrup (sorry Kyle) and artificial colors and flavors. So anything that is promoting causes that stand for more natural eating is a lovely move in my book.

As for the whiners who will fuss about a burrito not being free? Wah. Welcome to capitalism and the rights of a business to do what it wishes. They should be glad for the opportunity to 1. Support a great cause and 2. Get a burrito for freaking $2. Dress up, cough up and eat up.


Ashly,  October 31, 2010 at 4:44 PM  

I'm really glad to see someone other than Ryan Seacrest supporting the Food Revolution. It's such a great effort. The Chipotle Boorito event has been getting huge exposure through social media outlets. Great blog post, I enjoyed reading your commentary. Live up your time at Renegade :)

Anonymous,  November 9, 2010 at 7:17 AM  

wow Ken Hall looks really old in that video!

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