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A Kaleidoscopic Look at Chipotle's Social Strategy for 'Back to the Start'
By: Christine Geraci
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There's an interesting history behind the riveting "Back To The Start" ad the restaurant chain Chipotle ran during the Grammys on Feb. 12. 
 
This short film, created by filmmaker Johnny Kelly, has actually been around since the summer of 2011. It had already been viewed at least one million times online and had run during previews in movie theaters before it aired on national television during the Grammys.
 
It also seemed like not many people knew country music legend Willie Nelson had even recorded a cover of the haunting Coldplay song before the Chipotle ad aired. 
 
This might sound a little corny, but Chipotle's strategy to create buzz around this ad reminds me of the way a rainbow is made. 
 
First, the light source: The ad itself, launched via social media. The light source gradually expands as it passes through movie theaters in the previews. Buzz begins to build on social networks.
 
Next, the prism: The TV spot during the Grammys. After starting out on second screens, the ad goes to TV, and then...
 
The rainbow: The social media explosion. Twitter blew up after the ad aired. The next day, the Ohio Pork Producers Council released its own video defending the need to protect pigs from the elements and disease by placing them in indoor pens. Whether it was coincidence or not, McDonald's also announced that day its decision to phase out the use of gestation crates among its pork suppliers. 
 
The strategy could be likened to social media campaigns launched prior to movies (the ad is even defined as a short film). But I can't recall a brand using social media to first introduce an ad, then build up to the television debut of that same ad, which in turn generates even more social media buzz for the brand. 
 
Clearly, this "light-bending" approach worked. The ad got people and organizations talking, and other companies reacting — not just about Chipotle, but about the subject of sustainable farming. The approach delivered a call to action without making any blatant commands. And it helped Chipotle tell a story about what it strives for as a company.

Pretty darn impressive, regardless of your beliefs on the subjects of Chipotle, or farming, or pigs. Not to mention, worth possibly adapting as a strategy for your own social media campaign purposes.
 
What did you think of the Chipotle ad?


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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