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The big, fat, silver torpedo that is the Chipotle burrito is as iconic (in this city, anyway) as an Absolut bottle or a Converse shoe. So what better way to start off a brand new campaign than to ditch the thing you’re most famous for in favor of a bland, new Taco Bell-styled menu and some insipid value statements that are saturating the market in this shitty economy. Oh, and how about a new logo, too? Something that could sit nicely on the shelf at Target with the other Archer Farms produce?
Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners have, in one campaign, unraveled the hard work that so many agencies (including TDA Advertising & Design in Boulder) have built up over the last decade. No doubt a knee-jerk reaction to these tough economic times, the new work has abandoned the pithy wit and “it’s a big fucking burrito, eat it or sod off” attitude of the Chipotle of old, and replaced it with the lackluster positioning of “hey, come eat at Chipotle, because you’re poor and we understand that.” Pass me a bucket.
What was so great about the Chipotle advertising of the past what that is had personality and balls. Chipotle wasn’t just a place to eat, it was an attitude. Some of the ads I had loved in the past (all featuring the silver burrito) include:
OPEN WIDE. NO, WIDER.
BURRITOS SO BIG, YOU WANNA RIDE ‘EM.
OURS GO TO ELEVEN.
OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE LARGER THAN THEY APPEAR (written backwards).
These lines were the heart and soul of the Chipotle brand. They had the cool factor without trying too hard. They were honest, and they were memorable. They were a point of differentiation, a flag stuck firmly in the ground saying “this is who we are, take us or leave us.” And then along came marketing pussies and strategists who decided that a unique selling proposition was not all that valuable. Instead, Chipotle should jump on the bandwagon of VALUE and dump everything else in the trash. Oh, and throw away that big, fat, silver burrito, too. People know what it is, they don’t need to be reminded of it.
Now, I ask you, did you ever hear anyone say “man, I’d love to eat out tonight but Chipotle is so fucking expensive” in the last few years. That’s what I thought. Chipotle is fast food, it just happens to be great fast food. That’s why people lined up around the block when a new store opened. They wanted the big burrito. If they didn’t, they ordered something else, but the taste and flavor of the burrito was embedded in all of the other dishes (of which there weren’t many). Now, we have this LOW ROLLER MENU, which is a pale attempt to copy the dollar menus and value menus of the other chains. Why copy McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell? They suck. Do your own thing.
I, for one, don’t consider myself a low roller. I’m not a high roller either. I never thought $6 for a 1lb burrito was extravagant or costly. And now, a few bucks less for a small salad and a taco, well, that’s not tempting me at all.
This shitty work is a prime example of what happens when brands get scared and decide to follow the herd. Instead of zigging when everyone else is zagging, Chipotle has abandoned their steadfast position and have left it wide open for someone else with balls. It happened to Airwalk (read The Tipping Point). It almost happened to Sony. I never thought I’d see the day when it would happen to a brand like Chipotle. What a crying fucking shame.