Chipotle Taps GSD&M for Media, Creative

Shop Will Handle Planning, Buying and Select Creative Projects

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A scene from Chipotle's 'Scarecrow,' attacking factory farming
A scene from Chipotle's 'Scarecrow,' attacking factory farming

Chipotle has tapped Omnicom's GSD&M as its lead media agency and to handle some creative projects after a review.

A Chipotle spokesman confirmed the appointment. While the marketer's creative direction will continue to be driven internally, it will "look to GSD&M to take on select creative projects." GSD&M will work primarily on Chipotle's traditional advertising, which the chain calls its "top-of-mind" marketing, designed to raise awareness.

Media had previously been handled by Compass Point Media, which is part of Interpublic's Campbell-Mithun.

Much of the creative direction for Chipotle is set by its internal marketing team, which then enlists external agency partners for additional direction and creative execution. "Our marketing really relies on an integrated effort between our internal team and a group of really specialized agency partners to help us achieve our vision," Chipotle said in a statement. "That approach doesn't work for everyone, and it's always been important to us to find agencies that understand our vision and that are comfortable working under that direction and in partnership with our internal team, and other agency partners. GSD&M really understands that and recognizes that their role will be to help us strengthen our top-of-mind advertising program."

CAA will continue to work on select projects for Chipotle, where its efforts have yielded the chain's highest-profile work to date. CAA projects for Chipotle include the "Scarecrow" and "Back to the Start" videos, which are about two minutes long. CAA is also working with Chipotle for its Cultivate music festivals.

Chipotle initially reached out to agencies at the end of last year for a spring campaign. That campaign was ultimately handled by Chipotle's internal marketing team, with help from Cultivator, a shop in Denver that Chipotle will continue to work with on a project basis, mainly for local marketing efforts. The Chipotle spokesman said that there's no set timeline yet for when GSD&M's work will debut, and he declined to provide details on what creative GSD&M will work on.

The chain has long eschewed traditional marketing efforts that require hefty paid media, instead favoring long-form branded content like "Back to the Start," and most recently, packaging that includes brief essays by authors such as Jonathan Safran Foer, George Saunders and comedian Sarah Silverman. In January, Chipotle teamed up with Hulu to release " Farmed and Dangerous," a four-part satirical branded content series about industrial agriculture.

"They're a brand that's changing the behavior of how people think about food," said GSD&M Chief Creative Officer Jay Russell.

Chipotle last year spent $9.7 million on U.S. measured media in 2013, according to Kantar Media, up from $5.9 million the prior year.

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