On Tuesday, Chipotle celebrated National Taco Day by launching new chorizo tacos, but some have speculated that the promotional release might just be one more way the Tex-Mex chain is trying to regain customers following multiple food-safety scares last year.
As Chipotle continues to fight an uphill battle to reassure customers, it has revamped its food safety program with supplier interventions, new technologies such as high pressure systems, farmer support and training, enhanced restaurant procedures, a food safety certification program for its managers and field leaders, more restaurant inspections, an advanced electronic tracking system for its ingredients, and a new advisory council of industry experts to review the chain’s procedures.
Some analysts have criticized Chipotle for its apparent unwillingness to fully communicate such advancements to customers, and blamed that choice for the company’s slow recovery, but this latest effort aims to do exactly that and address food safety concerns head on.
In a video and open letter published in full-page ads in several newspapers in late September, Chipotle founder, chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells described the eight wats that the chain has improved its food safety protocols.
More recently, the company launched a new ad campaign, “Ingredients Reign.” Like its animated ads of the past, the videos focus on locally-sourced, carefully selected ingredients. Three 15-second and one 60-second ads have been released so far, each featuring ingredients getting a ‘royal treatment,’ – a bean ride in a gilded carriage, a tomato being fanned (with parsley leaves) on a chaise lounge, and a pepper relaxing in a bathtub – and narrated with a whimsical poem.
“We prepare all of our food using a very short list of ingredients,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief creative and development officer at Chipotle. “This allows us to obsess over each one in order to ensure that our food is absolutely delicious. This campaign takes a playful look at how all that attention has inflated the egos of our ingredients, resulting in a world in which we live to serve them — in every sense of the word.”
In addition to print, online, digital and social media distribution, the short films will be shown in movie theaters across the country, and Chipotle is considering airing them as television spots. The campaign was created in partnership with GSD&M and award-winning animation studio HouseSpecial.
Adding to Chipotle’s rough year, Crumpacker was indicted in June as part of a New York cocaine bust. He was initially put on administrative leave, but was recently reinstated to his position at Chipotle. He faces a hearing on October 18th for the drug charges.
Meanwhile, Chipotle is also facing accusations of wage theft in a class action lawsuit involving nearly 10,000 workers across the U.S. The workers say they were often forced to stay late and were not paid for their extra hours.