Chipotle kicks off college bowl season with two campaigns
- Chipotle has launched a new campaign, the Chipotle Free Delivery Bowl, which runs through Jan. 7 and offers customers free delivery on any order worth $10 or more. The campaign is a way for the company to give back to its fans versus spending millions on a college football bowl sponsorship, CMO Chris Brandt said in a company press release.
- Since its August partnership with DoorDash, the fast casual chain has been rolling out digital pick-up shelves nationwide to get food to customers and delivery drivers faster. It also is using a tech-enable secondary assembly line to allow employees to make entrees as orders are placed without disrupting in-restaurant customers. The company said its digital sales grew 48% last quarter, with digital sales accounting for 11.2% of sales, according to the press release.
- The company also said it is entering a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day. The brand's float will feature a red tractor to symbolize the work of local farms and will be built using actual ingredients used in Chipotle restaurants. It is the chain's first float in the Rose Parade.
Chipotle's delivery channel is relatively new, so a free delivery promotion is a good way to continue raising awareness and perhaps inspire new customers looking for a convenience-driven deal. Other chains also have offered significant incentives to promote their delivery services. For example, The Cheesecake Factory gave away slices of cheesecake for customers who ordered via Doordash, while Wendy's delivery promotions have led to a significant increase in delivery sales, according to CEO Todd Penegor.
During its Q3 earnings call, CEO Brian Niccol said there is still less than 50% awareness of Chipotle's digital platforms. Considering the chain's digital sales grew significantly during the second quarter, generating more awareness should provide a major opportunity for the company.
Tying this campaign into football season also is a way for Chipotle to make its way into fans' consideration set alongside pizza and wings. From a marketing perspective, college football is a relevant space for a brand to present its food delivery options — it’s the second most popular sport in the U.S. behind the NFL — and the 2017 bowl games reached 122 million television viewers.
Chipotle has quite a hill to climb to catch up to game time pizza orders (Hungry Howie’s Pizza calls football season "pizza season," and pizza orders jump 67% on Super Bowl Sunday, for example), but there are nearly 40 postseason bowl games, so chances are good that consumers might be easily incentivized for a little variety via a free delivery.
Further, putting itself in front of the Tournament of Roses Parade crowd also should provide strong exposure, especially with the delivery promotion active during the Rose Bowl. In 2017, the event drew an estimated 700,000 people to Pasadena, California, and about 28 million people watched on TVs throughout the world.
Though it’s not a revenue-generating campaign, Chipotle’s "Cultivate a Better World" float could get plenty of people talking. The float includes approximately 200 pounds of chili flakes, 100 pounds of lemons and a plethora of other ingredients, from white rice to cilantro and ground onion seeds. After the parade, those ingredients will be composted and donated to local farms. This appearance could very well turn the conversation back to Chipotle’s original commitment to sourcing and, perhaps, away from lingering food safety issues.
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