Chipotle Taps Malcolm Gladwell, Jonathan Safran Foer for Essays on Packaging

Move is Latest in Marketing Efforts That Uses No Paid Media

By Published on .

If you've ever wanted to read a quick George Saunders essay while scarfing down a burrito, you now have that opportunity. Chipotle is using its packaging as a medium for essays by a slew of popular writers and comedians, also including Jonathan Safran Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Judd Apatow and Toni Morrison.

The effort, called "Cultivating Thought," is the latest in a line of marketing pushes, also including its Chipotle Cultivate Music festivals, that are intended to change the way people think about fast food.

"We live in a world in which there is shrinking space for literature and writing, and less time than ever for quiet reflection," Mr. Foer said in a statement. "The idea of expanding the space and time, of creating a small pocket of thoughtfulness right in the middle of the busy day, was inspiring to me – particularly given the size and diversity of the audience, which is America itself."

Each of the 10 writers' essays will be featured on a Chipotle cup or bag, themed as "two-minute" readings and varying in topic. Other authors in the series include Sheri Fink, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of "Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital," Saturday Night Live comedian Bill Hader; "Moneyball" author Michael Lewis; experimental psychologist Steve Pinker; and comedian Sarah Silverman.

Chipotle in recent years has put a huge emphasis on content, much of which gets widespread attention with minimal paid media. The chain in 2011 began making waves with its branded content by releasing the "Back to the Start" video, which chronicles the perils of industrialized farming through the lens of a fictional farmer, accompanied by Willie Nelson's cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist." Follow-ups, such as its video "Scarecrow," which featured "Pure Imagination" (from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory") performed by Fiona Apple, also collected industry accolades.

More recently, Chipotle in February released a web series, "Farmed and Dangerous," on Hulu. The four-part series offers a fictionalized look at look at the world of industrial agriculture, which it argues prioritizes keeping costs down above humane treatment of animals.

Most Popular