- Chipotle Mexican Grill has partnered with TikTok creator house The House Nobody Asked For to promote a new group-ordering feature in its app, according to a press release.
- Through Sept. 14, the cohort will review video submissions with the #ChipotleSponsorUs and #contest hashtags and award five small friend groups or families a year's worth of free burritos if their effort is deemed a creative fit.
- The campaign builds on Chipotle's past efforts to tap into the virality of TikTok, particularly the crop of users vying to become brand ambassadors through a popular #ChipotleSponsorMe hashtag.
An early brand adopter of TikTok, Chipotle continues to round out its playbook on the video-sharing app with the #ChipotleSponsorUs contest. The fast-casual chain is now leveraging the popularity of creator houses, linking with the recently formed The House Nobody Asked For to drum up interest in its promotion and raise awareness for a new group-ordering app feature. The house's TikTok account commands 2.1 million followers at press time.
Creator houses have proliferated quickly in recent months, as top TikTok users come together under one roof to collaborate on content, document their lives and attempt to secure larger sponsorship deals. The group home setup mirrors that of reality TV shows, adjusted to meet the always-on demands of social media. Like reality TV, the space has proven rife with controversy and instances of exploitation, but new houses continue to crop up to try and capitalize on user interest — a trend The House Nobody Asked For nods to in its tongue-in-cheek name.
Creators remain one of TikTok's most powerful draws, producing the viral videos that drive the platform's algorithm and keep viewers engaged. Chipotle has previously run promotions courting wannabe ambassadors that use the #ChipotleSponsorMe tag in their videos. In April, the chain doled out Celebrity Cards granting free meals to users who submitted posts reviewed by David Dobrik, a popular TikTok creator. The latest push looks to retool the concept toward a group focus.
Beyond the marketing component, the news firms up how Chipotle is putting bigger bets on digital and mobile ordering during the coronavirus pandemic. These channels were of increasing importance to the brand prior to the health crisis, but lockdown orders and the shuttering of dine-in locations have enshrined them as essential parts of restaurant growth strategies. Chipotle's digital sales spiked 216% year-on-year to $829.3 million in the second quarter, accounting for 61% of total sales for the period and helping offset declines in foot traffic to stores.
The group-ordering app feature tries to seize on this momentum by targeting families. The product lets users share links with friends and family, where they can customize their pickup and delivery orders via phone or desktop. Through Sept. 13, Chipotle is also running a Family Extra offer where group orders of four or more can win a free large chips and guacamole through the promo code "4FAMILY."
Chipotle's digital renaissance has been helped in no small part by TikTok, which it glommed onto long before rivals and has used consistently in its marketing to viral success. The brand continues to bet heavily on the app, even as TikTok faces an uncertain future in the U.S. due to security concerns stemming from its parent company's ties to China.
A pair of executive orders from the Trump administration issued last month will ban transactions with TikTok starting Sept. 20 and force ByteDance to divest the app's U.S. business and any data on U.S. users by Nov. 12. Talks of an acquisition for TikTok have accelerated in recent weeks, with Microsoft and Walmart viewed as the top suitors with a joint bid. But the deal's completion has faced new barriers following the introduction of a Chinese rule that would likely prevent exporting the TikTok algorithm, arguably the app's crown jewel.