Chipotle Gets it Right

Amid Adele’s landslide and the accolades for Whitney Houston, you might have missed the commercial for Chipotle Mexican Grill that aired during last night’s Grammy Awards.

As noted in the New York Times, the longform ad started as a short film shown first online and then in movie theaters. It is Chipotle’s first national advertising and while it sells the company and its food, it also asks viewers to download the music from the commercial (Willie Nelson singing “The Scientist”). Proceeds from the song will go to the Chipotle Cultivation Foundation, an organization that promotes sustainable farming.

I often write about companies that get cause marketing and CSR wrong. Chipotle is a company that gets it right. They are a flag bearer for social innovation–fully integrating the principles of their company into how they do business. Social innovation, unlike cause marketing and CSR, is a corporate strategy whereby companies are authentic, customizable, transparent and sustainable. Chipotle does all of these things.

For example and as evidenced by this marketing, the company is committed to sustainable farming. They have worked with local farmers to help them be able to increase their production in order to be a supplier to Chipotle. They have been successful in finding and cultivating suppliers so that most of the meat the company uses in their food is sustainable. But, not all of it. Does the company hide this fact? No, they practically scream it. You can go online and find where sustainable meats are available–and, more important for many folks, where they are not. (For more on Chipotle, I have an extensive case study on the company in Compassion, Inc.)

While I don’t as a rule like the idea of using the consumer marketplace as a way to generate charitable donations, in this case I make an exception. First, because the company is not asking you to buy their product (it’s not a burrito generating the funding), and second, because the campaign so fundamentally fits with the personality of the company while serving a bigger purpose.

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