Chipotle Mexican Grill's first major marketing push under new leadership relies on less humor to put more emphasis on the food itself.
The new campaign comes about three years after Chipotle found itself in crisis mode as food safety concerns piled up. A lot has changed since those bleak days, as Chipotle instituted new food preparation techniques, mandated new training, brought in new leadership and hired new agencies. But reports of illnesses tied to its restaurant still flare up from time to time, dragging Chipotle back into a spotlight that it is eager to escape.
Now Chipotle is stepping up marketing to shine its own light on something it used to be known for, its use of fresh ingredients. It's Chipotle's biggest push yet under Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt, who joined in April.
Chipotle was already highlighting ingredient quality in ads that Brandt and his team worked on earlier this year. Brandt in June declared that Chipotle wanted to become "a purpose-driven lifestyle brand"; in July, he said the new campaign would "put a tagline on our brand that I don't think a lot of other brands could or would do."
That tagline is "for real." The line plays up Chipotle's use of "real food," as it puts it, and can be used to suggest efforts that extend beyond its restaurants. For example, a print ad includes the line "For real foods. For real actions. For real change."
If the "real" emphasis sounds familiar, perhaps that's because the 25-year-old company's big push starting in April 2017 was about being "as real as it gets." That work was overseen by Chief Marketing and Development Officer Mark Crumpacker, who left Chipotle in March, soon after CEO Brian Niccol joined from Taco Bell. It leaned heavily on comedy, however, to make its point.
Though it's much reduced, there remains a bit of humor in the new work. Billboards and print ads say "the only ingredient that's hard to pronounce at Chipotle is 'Chipotle'" before giving the answer some may need: "In case you're wondering, it's CHIH-POAT-LAY."
TV ads include 15-second and 30-second spots. One touts the limited-time return of chorizo saying that it has nothing to hide about the pork-and-chicken sausage "but you can go ahead and wrap it in a tortilla anyway."
Another points out that there are no heat lamps, freezers or microwaves.
Online efforts include a second Instagram account, @ChipotleForReal, where it offers descriptions of each of its 51 ingredients. Even tapioca starch gets a post.