How Chipotle’s Recent Campaign is Like a Delicious Burrito

We often think of advertising, PR and marketing in separate buckets. Ads help you promote your product or service, PR helps you manage your reputation and marketing can help you fine-tune your message.

This manner of thinking even extends to the places from where we receive these services.

If you want to create a new ad for your product, you call an ad agency. If you need some better blog content for your web visitors, you call a marketing firm. If the CEO gets caught doing something he or she should not have been doing, you call a PR agency.

Every once in a while, however, there comes a campaign that shrugs off the silo and represents the best of what each of those three buckets has to offer.

Chipotle’s recent “A Love Story” campaign shows us how powerful that can be.

The campaign is, in and of itself, like a Chipotle burrito. Lots of delicious flavors all wrapped into one warm flour tortilla. Here’s how it reflects all three brand facets and why it works.

Why it’s content marketing

Content marketing is essentially branded storytelling, and video offers one of the most compelling ways to do that. Some brands do it better than others, and Chipotle has it dialed in.

 

Three years ago, the company released a video titled “The Scarecrow,” which is about a sullen little scarecrow working for a big food-processing plant. Once he understands that the food the company sells is very modified, he becomes disenfranchised and starts his own food business using fresh fruits and vegetables from his own garden.

Since launching that video, Chipotle has added several more to its YouTube channel, all with a similar message: make the better food choice. The metaphor is obvious, but the story is powerful nonetheless.

“A Love Story” delivers a fresh take, though. Pairing a more humanizing vibe with a separate landing page and an accompanying matching game to boot (my best time is 35 seconds), it plays like its own campaign.

Sure, it sells a product and a message like an ad, but it does so through a frame of mind, a unique worldview.

Why it’s advertising

This is sort of an easy one. It was promoted and distributed on Facebook and Twitter, and participating with the game comes with a delightful burrito BOGO offer.

The video itself shows that “A Love Story” is part of a rising trend in video advertising. An AdWeek compilation of the top 10 most viewed ads on YouTube last month features only 4 traditional “TV spot” style ads. The rest are videos several minutes in length, even one 13-minute short film featuring Clive Owen. “A Love Story” has been called an ad and a short film, and there’s plenty of evidence to support both interpretations.

The matching game is what stamps the “ad” seal on the campaign. If you engage with the content, you’re rewarded with a BOGO burrito offer that you can enjoy happily with someone you deem worthy of a burrito.

Why it’s PR

The timing of its release makes “A Love Story” the perfect example of PR. The campaign was launched back in July in conjunction with a new summer rewards program. That program was aimed at winning back customers who were scared off during a very costly and public E. coli crisis.

Reputation management is a key PR function. “After the health of patrons, the most important issue facing a brand in crisis is the damage to its reputation,” says Mike Swenson, president of Crossroads. “A brand’s reputation is a moving target.”

As the brand is on the mend, “A Love Story” plays like a great PR move as much as it serves as a compelling piece of content. Add a strong media placement or two (another crucial PR step) and you’re left with a well-executed public relations campaign.

Conclusion

While we like to put different marketing, ad and PR functions into those separate buckets, you can find a certain magic in weaving them all together. It takes an air-tight content strategy, a solid implementation plan and a good partner agency to help make it all happen. And while it may be too soon to tell whether Chipotle can make a full recovery, they’re off to a pretty good start — and teaching us all some valuable lessons along the way.

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