How Chipotle can repair their brand image

I love burritos. Specifically Chipotle burritos. When I heard Chipotle was temporarily closing some of its restaurants because of  various food borne illnesses, then closing all of them for a day to have a company-wide meeting to discuss food safety, I was pretty concerned.

The good news for Chipotle is the CDC is officially declared the E-Coli outbreak over.  So what can they do to help their brand image and get people back to their stores? Chipotle has a loyal customer base and perhaps those people will be easy to win over. Everyone else will be much more difficult.

Firstly, Founder and CEO Steve Ells appeared on the Today Show recently to answer tough questions from Matt Lauer. I’m sure he made other media appearances as well in order to get the word out that they are doing everything they can to make sure Chipotle is the safest place to eat. Constantly communicating that they are the cleanest place to eat, will somewhat help calm fears, but will it get people to come back?

According to Ad Age, Chipotle is offering a promotion this year around the Super Bowl, offering $50 discounts on catering orders of 20 burritos or more by February 7th. I don’t really think that is enough. Something big and bold like one free burrito (or at least a BOGO) to each customer that comes in on a certain day would definitely get people talking AND back to their restaurants.  How about a one-time “We’re sorry” ad in newspapers and magazines with the free burrito coupon. Maybe even an apology letter written on the sides of their cups? I love reading the messages they put on them so using that as an avenue of communicating their new food safety policies could go a long way.

Going the social media route, they could tie in a promo where if you share a picture on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc from a Chipotle restaurant, the customer would get an emailed coupon or code for a free burrito on their next visit.

There is a great opportunity for Chipotle to win back their fans. Steve’s interview partially sold me. Let’s see what else they have up their sleeve to bring us back. Should be interesting!

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