Chipotle is an American fast food chain, specializing in burritos, owned by McDonald's since 2000. In 2010 its 976 restaurants generated an annual turnover of $ 1,574 million (for the year ending March 31), almost doubling over 4 years with a pre-tax margin of 14.2%.
Chipotle represents a very interesting case of disconnection between the values of the brand and the messages conveyed in its advertising – an inconsistency that stopped earlier this year. Chipotle's vision lies in its slogan: "Food with Integrity". Wishing to change the dominantly fast food concept, Chipotle's founder (in 1993), Steve Ells, introduced an innovative offer in terms of ingredients and manufacturing: "demonstrate that food served fast doesn’t have to be a traditional “fast-food” experience".
- All the pork, chicken and 60% of the beef used in its restaurants are from animals raised in their natural habitat.
- All the meat is guaranteed free of antibiotics and hormones; the animals are reared without using food of animal origin.
- Each of the restaurants have to meet a target of 35% of products of local origin.
- Emphasis is placed on ingredients derived from organic farming (40% of beans for example).
- Most of the dishes on the menu are made on the spot, and not pre-prepared.
Traditionally Chipotle's advertisements highlighted, with a touch of humour ... the size of their burritos. These ads disappeared this year, much to the disappointment of fans of the brand, who have even complained on the internet.
Chipotle decided to rethink its marketing strategy, creating a post of Marketing Director and launching a communications campaign highlighting its vision of "Food with Integrity". The burritos disappeared! Instead, we find a discourse on hormone-free meat, ingredients, farmers ...
There is reason to wonder whether this campaign, created in-house, will last beyond one season. Even if we find here a theme that closely resembles the new Domino's Pizza strategy (which I detailed in my post of July 11), that of a meta-discourse, we are far removed from the two fundamental elements of the brand's message: humour, and huge burritos (which highlighted the quantity/price ratio).
This campaign is too intellectual - even if it puts forward the vision of the brand. One could have imagined other themes - more consistent with the brand and its usual message – as we find in some previous campaigns...
Chipotle was much more inspired when the question of packaging came up, and recognized that this medium of communication was totally underutilized: Indeed, the new packs provide all the information that consumers can expect in terms of know-how, commitment, local production... and therefore "Food with Integrity"! I think that a brand should coordinate the various media of communication it employs - and they should certainly not all convey the same message.