Chipotle didn’t get to 1,000 stores by serving sustainably raised meats.
My hometown of Denver is home to five or six home-grown fast casual restaurant chains. None has surprised me more than Chipotle.
I still remember the day in 1995 or ’96 I stopped over for a tour of my friend Dan Fogarty’s ad agency.And he told me he was closing it down to work full-time for his biggest client, Chipotle.
Here’s what Dan and Chipotle taught me about leisure marketing:
1. You don’t have to spend big to look big.
Early on Chipotle didn’t have any money to hire a big agency. So Dan did the next best thing: He hired copywriter friends from big agencies. And paid them to write dozens of great headlines like “So big, it beeps when it backs up.”
2. Keep your advertising as simple as your food.
Dan took all those headlines and put every one of them over the same picture: a big, foil-wrapped Chipotle burrito. Dan ran that campaign for years, despite a few complaints that he should do some new visuals.
Chipotle became famous because of Dan’s commitment to communicating one simple idea: Chipotle serves big burritos.
3. Own one medium.
For years, Chipotle couldn’t afford to be on TV. So Dan bought outdoor boards and they ran their big burrito picture and funny headlines on every one of those boards.
Our media director used to say that outdoor is the poor marketing director’s TV.Dan proved that by making Chipotle look big on a very small marketing budget.
4. Advertise near your stores.
Dan bought outdoor boards strategically located near his restaurants. It immediately told you where the nearest Chipotle was. And did it when you were in your car on your way to lunch or home for dinner.
5. Experiment with emerging media.
Dan put Chipotle on the internet before most restaurant chains knew what the internet was. And he found the most cutting-edge web design and development guys around to build a site that matched Chipotle’s irreverent personality.
Dan’s moved on. But his successors are carrying on a great dialogue with their customers on their website, and with Chipotle’s 850,000 Facebook fans.
What did Chipotle teach you about leisure marketing? Share your favorite burrito story with us.