Chipotle Mexican Grill (US)

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Selected Chipotle Mexican Grill advertising

Chipotle Mexican Grill is among the most prominent, and has certainly been the most vocal, of a new breed of US fast-casual chains that set out to replace processed and artificial ingredients with fresh high quality while also providing the same speed and efficiency as McDonald's or - more specifically in this case - Taco Bell. The chain's profile was further boosted by two charming, widely acclaimed animated films which highlighted its commitment to "food with integrity". Indeed it was all going exceptionally well until summer 2015, when Chipotle suffered unconnected food poisoning outbreaks at different restaurants. A series of further incidents later the same year spread across a total of 14 states prompted a sharp decline in performance, as well as a complete overhaul of all food preparation systems. The precise cause of the outbreak remains a mystery, but several different ingredients came under suspicion. Since the beginning of 2016, and no further outbreaks, the chain has been fighting to rebuild trust with customers. By the end of 2016, there were 2,250 Chipotle restaurants, mostly in the US, with a handful of outlets in Canada and Europe. It had around 29% share of the US Mexican limited service market in 2015 behind Taco Bell's 57%. Combined revenues peaked at $4.5bn before slumping in 2016 to $3.9bn. The company is also experimenting with different formats, launching ShopHouse Kitchen, offering Asian cuisine, and Pizzeria Locale. There are only a handful of outlets so far. Steve Ells, who founded the business in 1993, remains CEO. Ironically, a key player in the success of Chipotle was Big Food itself, McDonald's, which acquired a controlling stake in the business in 1999 when it had only 14 outlets in Colorado and helped expand that number to over 500 nationally by the time its divested its stake in 2006 via an IPO. Adbrands no longer offers a business profile for this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.

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Capsule checked 6th July 2016


Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Jul 2016: Chipotle Mexican Grill reported a significantly slower than expected recovery to performance in 2Q as it wrestles with the fallout from multiple Ecoli poisoning incidents at the end of last year. Same-store sales fell 24% compared to the year-ago period, slightly better than the 30% it suffered in the first quarter, but a much slower improvement than analysts had hoped for, considering the chain has suffered no further food-related illnesses since the start of the year. The company said most regular customers have begun returning, but they're not eating as frequently as before.

Adbrands Weekly Update 7th July 2016: Ads of the Week: "A Love Story". Chipotle Mexican Grill sets out to put its several troubles behind it with this wonderful new short from CAA Marketing, who were also responsible for the fast-feeder's two previous multi-award winning films. (Prodco Passion Pictures also delivered recent Cannes Lions awardee Justino for Leo Burnett and the Spanish Lottery). Like Chipotle's previous films, this serves as an object lesson in the evils of corporate greed and the ultimate triumph (natch!) of fresh ingredients over processed gloop. It looks bad for Ivan and Evie, but fret not dear reader, because you already know exactly how it ends. See next year's winner of the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Film and Film Craft now.

Adbrands Weekly Update 7th July 2016: Just as Chipotle Mexican Grill was beginning to put last year's food poisoning outbreaks behind it, the fast casual restaurant chain was hit by a new - though arguably less damaging - PR crisis with the arrest of chief creative & development officer Mark Crumpacker as one of several "key repeat customers" of a New York cocaine dealing ring. A Bloomberg media report attempted to suggest in his defence that he was "driven to drugs" by the intense pressure caused by the chain's salmonella and norovirus outbreak. He was placed on administrative leave by Chipotle pending further developments.


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