Inside Chipotle’s record-breaking Twitter promotion

2023/05/04 Innoverview Read

When National Burrito Day rolls around each year, Chipotle frequently jumps on buzzy trends like the metaverse or cryptocurrency to dish out free food to hungry consumers. However, this year the brand took its strategy back to the basics, focusing efforts around Twitter for a candid giveaway inspired by its fans that delivered record-breaking success. 

For the April 6 activation, Chipotle dispersed text-to-win codes on Twitter giving away 10,000 free burritos — plus an additional 500 codes to users as an added surprise — along with free delivery on $10 orders. While not its flashiest display, the effort now stands as Chipotle’s second largest digital sales day of all time and its highest one-day volume on social media of any activation ever, all while staying true to its longtime goal surrounding the holiday, according to Tressie Lieberman, vice president of digital marketing and off-premise for Chipotle.

“Our overarching strategy is to supercharge the super fans,” said Lieberman. “We believe our fans are different, they’re so passionate about the brand and we try to give them things that they want to talk about and share with their communities.”

Demand surrounding the effort soared, with each round of text codes dropped by Chipotle claimed in less than a minute, over 1 million SMS messages sent and over 150,000 social media messages from consumers asking for a free burrito. The latter is one of the top questions the brand receives on social media for the holiday each year, Lieberman said, which is what inspired the effort in hopes of making a lasting impression.

“Every year we try to do the unexpected and really shake things up,” she said. “This year, I think because we hadn’t tapped into this insight yet, it was very unexpected — people weren’t thinking that we would actually drop free Chipotle in that way, so we felt it was the right moment to make it happen.” 

Additional marketing muscle came from a partnership with GrubHub the day prior to National Burrito Day to offer a total of 20,000 free burritos to consumers who placed a minimum $20 order on the app. To promote the offer, Chipotle partnered with social media mogul Alix Earle, currently the top-ranked influencer among teens, who shared the deal on TikTok. Demand for the giveaway was similarly felt, with all free burritos on the delivery app claimed in 12 hours.

Chipotle’s latest burrito celebration is more straightforward than some of its past efforts, which have called on flashy marketing trends. For example, the brand last year launched a Chipotle Burrito Builder experience on Roblox that divvied out free entree codes. In 2021, it capitalized on Bitcoin hype with a themed contest that awarded consumers with cryptocurrency and a total of $100,000 worth of free burritos. 

(Copyright:MarketingDive Inside Chipotle’s record-breaking Twitter promotion | Marketing Dive)