by Ana Guzman
Chipotle, the popular Mexican restaurant chain, recently implemented a new campaign called the “Cultivating Thought Author Series.” It features short stories on Chipotle’s bags and cups, written by 10 popular authors. The idea is to give customers something fun to read as they eat their Chipotle burritos or salads.
Safran Foer’s concept
The concept was created by Jonathan Safran Foer, a New York best-selling author who, when one day was eating a Chipotle burrito, realized he did not have anything to read. In an article on Vanityfair.com, Safran Foer explained how he had met with Chipotle’s CEO Steve Ells a few years earlier and decided to send him an email explaining his idea.
Ells was interested and Safran Foer started to put together a group of writers. “Chipotle refrained from meddling in the editorial process for the duration of the initiative, which the burrito chain has branded Cultivating Thought,” Safran Foer explained in Vanity Fair. “I selected the writers, and insofar as there was any editing, I did it.” The cups and bags from Chipotle have always been creative and out-of-the-ordinary with the sharing of thoughts, ideas or by incorporating humor. Therefore, presenting the stories of comedians, authors and thought leaders would not stray too far from an already established piece of Chipotle’s identity.
The featured authors
Safran Foer explained how he wanted authors with different writing styles, such as comedy, fiction, essayistic writing and how he wanted to bring in authors who could provide thought-provoking content. Some of the authors featured in the campaign are Safran Foer, himself, Toni Morrison, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, film director and producer Judd Apatow, and Sarah Silverman, a comedienne, author and actor. The other six writers also represent a diversity of experiences and provide the variety of writing styles.
The short stories
The stories are short and each one includes “Two Minute” in its title. According to Chipotle, that is the amount of time it will take the customer to read the text. Chipotle’s Cultivating Thought website explains that the purpose of the stories are for the customers to engage in content that makes them laugh, inspires them and provokes thought.
The newly designed cups and bags were first distributed on May 15. I think it will be interesting to see the public reactions to the new packaging. As a regular Chipotle customer, I wonder how often these stories will change and how likely it will be for a person to receive the same story as someone else.
This campaign also provides the restaurant chain with unique and shareable content. The hashtag #CultivatingThought seems to be in frequent use on Twitter and although it is not trending, it allows Chipotle to engage more customers. Oddly enough, it hasn’t made a huge splash on Instagram, but that may come in time. To see the reactions, just search the hashtag.