I just heard the bad news. For the fourth straight quarter, sales have fallen. Things are looking pretty bleak. But maybe the reason I, and thousands of others, haven’t frequented your establishments lately is because you haven’t been telling us what we want to hear.
Oh sure, I’ve seen the “Love Story” video you put out back in July. Facebook’s daily “suggested post” prompted me to play the Chipotle Matching Game and watch your video again. And yes, I watched all 4+ minutes of it. But guess what? I didn’t take the BOGO free offer. Why? Because you didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about you. You were just telling me your story all over again, in a slightly different way. In my mind, it was essentially the same story line as “Back to the Start” and “Scarecrow,” even feeling a bit like Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s not what I needed to hear from you.
But now, your new campaign, “Ingredients Reign,” is telling me a little of what I’ve been waiting to hear. It’s more about how you care for the ingredients you serve, and that’s important to me. Still, it’s not enough by itself. It’s another standard Chipotle ad, trying to playfully send me a message.
Then I finally found the most important thing I needed to hear from you (although I did have to search for it): the video from your CEO about the steps you’ve taken to improve food safety. Apparently it was what everyone else was waiting to hear as well, since you yourself have noticed more positive social media sentiment.
What I really want you to know? The steps outlined in this video are important to me with regard to your recent history, and the information has left a far more positive impression on me about Chipotle than any previous or current ad.
I love the whimsical, entertaining nature of your advertising. It’s fun to watch. But in light of the very serious issues you’ve had, it was high time for a serious, direct and transparent message from you about how you’re dealing with the problems. I needed to hear you acknowledge your mistakes and tell me pointedly what you’re doing so I can feel safe eating your food. I know brands are loath to directly address the negative … but it’s worked out well for Domino’s and McDonald’s, so I’m glad you’re starting down this path. I hope you’ll find a way to balance your playful ads with more direct messages to ease my mind. I want to trust you!