"All of the agencies in the review may want to call us or the previous agencies for our thoughts," DeVito spokesman Kelly Durcan said. The agency will not be part of the review. He added that the business has been "very quiet."
It wasn't immediately clear what, if anything, the abrupt moves mean for Chipotle internally. The review is by "invitation only," and participants will not be disclosed. A decision is expected by the end of the year.
Changing views of fast food
"We are looking for an agency that wants to develop a long-term relationship with Chipotle and our current marketing partners," CEO Steve Ells said in a release. "This agency will play an important role of communicating our mission of changing the way the world thinks about and eats fast food."
The popular burrito chain, which emphasizes organic ingredients and natural meats, has expanded rapidly in recent years. Chipotle has been working to develop a national media strategy that jibes with the grass-roots credentials that built its following. Once a regional chain, Chipotle now operates more than 775 restaurants. The first national media attention came when McDonald's invested in its business, back in the 1990s.
Sequence, a San Francisco-based branding firm, will conduct the agency search on Chipotle's behalf. Prior to DeVito/Verdi, Chipotle worked with TDA Advertising & Design of Boulder, Colo.
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Rupal Parekh contributed to this article.