Dear Chipotle, It’s Me Again

by | Nov 3, 2016

Dear Chipotle,

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!



About the Author

Jim Lyza

Jim Lyza

Jim is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

About the Author

Jim Lyza

Jim Lyza

Jim is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

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Matt Brass

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Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

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Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.