Chipotle Mexican Grill was faced with a conundrum: how to drive awareness of its delivery service during the 2019 NBA Finals, even though it is not an official NBA sponsor.
The brand was offering free delivery on orders of $10 or more during the series, but the real challenge for Chipotle and Day One Agency was finding a way to promote the offer without mentioning the event itself, since Taco Bell held those rights as the NBA category sponsor.
The agency started with research showing delivery was being driven by 18- to 34-year-olds and data from Twitter that showed visits to the platform increase 4.1 times during live sports events. So, each time announcers said the word free—as in “free throw”—Chipotle tweeted a code. The first people to text Chipotle with that code got a free burrito.
Day One then added to the idea, giving away burritos after the note sung with the word “free” was held more than three seconds during the national anthem before one game.
Overall, the effort earned 2 billion media impressions and drew 200,000 unique participants. The average viewer tried to win a free burrito at least eight times, according to the agency. The Toronto Raptors won the series, but Chipotle could also be considered a winner, as its delivery orders spiked.