Chipotle Signs On Butler Shine as Agency of Record

Shop Selected to Differentiate 'Hard to Market' Brand

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Chipotle has tapped Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, San Francisco, as its new agency of record, succeeding DeVito/Verdi, New York, which worked on the brand for less than a year. The agency did not defend the account, and other finalists in the review were not disclosed.

Chipotle chief marketer Mark Crumpacker said Butler Shine rose to the top of the heap because it understood the chain's quirky brand. "Essentially this brand is going to be hard to market because it's been very word-of-mouth," he said. "A heavy-handed Super Bowl-style sort of approach isn't going to work for our customers." Mr. Crumpacker became the brand's first CMO earlier this month.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, Chipotle spent $7 million in measured media during 2007 and $9 million during the first nine months of 2008. In the next year, Mr. Crumpacker said his marketing budget won't increase much, but he'll be reallocating funds to execute the new agency's plan. As a result, he said, Chipotle will take a step back from sponsored events. The chain will maintain its Tour de France sponsorship, but marketing support will be on a smaller scale.

Standing out as a brand
"We're at a point where we need to tell people what we're about," he said. "Instead of things that are strictly awareness-based, we need to be telling what's different about us."

The chain's search began months ago, with 27 agencies. After Chipotle narrowed it down to three agencies, they were invited to do a paid project as a trial. Mr. Crumpacker identified the other finalists as "California-based."

The burrito chain, ironically known both for its grass-roots heritage and its past affiliation with McDonald's, has been tweaking its marketing strategy for several years. DeVito reached agency-of-record status last January after Chipotle had been without a shop for nearly a year. Chipotle previously worked with TDA Advertising & Design of Boulder, Colo., but for less than a year. By September, however, it was clear that Chipotle and DeVito had parted ways.

"Chipotle is a passion brand," Butler Shine CEO Greg Stern said in a statement. "We're very excited to work with their team to leverage the many ardent Chipotle fans in order to create many, many more, and to support the company's plans for growth."

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