Moran to put Chipotle's organic message front and center

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After losing Kevin Reddy to Noodles & Co., Chipotle has raised its game, naming Monty Moran as its president-chief operating officer and breaking its first TV advertising.

The former CEO of Denver law firm Messner & Reeves has acted as general counsel for the fresh-Mexican chain for eight years and was among the first people to try the Chipotle burrito when founder and CEO Steve Ells first experimented with the massive tubes of meat, cheese and veggies.

"Steve was a chef making things with wine-reduction sauces and stuffed meats and all of a sudden I got this tinfoil [wrapped] burrito," said Mr. Moran. "I was pretty disappointed until I bit into it, and I've been a fan since."

An experienced trial lawyer, Mr. Moran, 38, is a somewhat rare breed in restaurant management. But he intends to use the logic and persuasive skills he honed in the courtroom to help the chain expand its "food with integrity" cause "to revolutionize how America grows, gathers, eats and serves its food" with organic foods and humane animal farming.

"We're doing a tough thing here with our `food with integrity' stuff," said Mr. Ells. "It's hard to convince people to pay more for food grown without pesticides and herbicides." Mr. Ells pointed to the success retailer Whole Foods has had in bringing organic foods to the masses. "We've started to incorporate that into our marketing, but we don't want to be preachy," said Mr. Ells.

Last week, the company launched its first TV campaign via TDA Advertising & Design, Boulder, Colo., with three phony spots made to look like PBS programs "Masterpiece Theater," news and a pledge drive. They support a real PBS cooking show, called "How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs," starring chef and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman. Chipotle has signed up as a sponsor of the show as Mr. Bittman shares his affinity for naturally raised meats.

"We're big proponents of PBS and public radio, so this will be our first way to dip our toes into TV advertising without doing TV advertising," said Dan Fogarty, who holds the offbeat titles of brand leader and keeper of the faith for the chain. New radio and print creative have begun incorporating the integrity message with headlines like "Ingest no evil," "Chicken that's been inspected not injected," and "It's 11:45 am. Do you know where your beef came from?" The work is "a bit informative, but as always, entertains," said Mr. Fogarty.

Chipotle also hopes to use its Master Burrito Ambassadors (or MBAs)-more than 200 influential young people it has tapped to turn people onto the brand-to evangelize the movement. "There's a huge opportunity to share with them the importance of sustainability, the importance of preserving our rural landscape, and celebrating family farmers," said Mr. Ells. " Kids want a cool place to eat, something that tastes good. Once you are totally bought into that and you layer on top the deeper meaning, the more importance behind it, that's when it becomes a very powerful message."

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