I’ve fallen deeper in love with Chipotle.


Chipotle, the American burrito company that is all about organic ingredients and that serves up more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant chain, has just released their second brilliant YouTube advert, “The Scarecrow”:

This follows up their first, equally remarkable, advert, “Back to the Start”:

The clips both have >7m views and emotively articulate Chipotle’s belief in “food with integrity”. The clips draw you in to this sad reality of animal mistreatment, with haunting music and relatable characters, then flip right over to the better, happier, healthier option, ultimately encouraging and empowering us to make the positive choice to buy into food with integrity. This is a brand that knows exactly what it believes in. I’ll bet that each of their 37,000 employees and most of their 750,000 customers each day are just as clear on what Chipotle values.

While this brand integrity is surely the foundation of Chipotle’s success, it must come at a significant financial cost to the company – higher food cost, auditing farmer practices etc. It made sense then to discover that Chipotle outlets are 100% corporate owned and not franchised. For all the benefits franchisees can bring to an expanding store chain they also have the potential to derail strategic brand building initiatives in favour of short term cost reductions.

Chipotle falls into the category of ‘fast casual restaurants’ (FCR) as opposed to ‘quick service restaurants’ (QSR) such as McDonalds and KFC. This means that the average customer bill will be a bit higher and the atmosphere a bit more pleasant. It’s clear that at Chipotle you’re not just buying a meat filled tortilla – you’re buying into food with integrity, a better life, humanity – and for this people are willing to pay a bit more.

Australia has some excellent emerging FCR chains. Particularly notable for me is Guzman y Gomez, who push out a highly authentic Mexican / fresh wholesome food image – backed up by great food, largely accented staff and clever store design. Let’s hope they remain clear and uncompromising on their brand promise throughout upcoming expansion (and they appear to be taking on franchiees which will no doubt pose some challenges).


And while it is not fair to compare FCR to QSRs, I can’t help but wonder when my childhood favourite Red Rooster fell to the bottom of the heap? This is a brand with great history but appears to have no clear vision about who they are and what, aside from soggy chicken rolls, they have to offer customers. See below my dinner during the week (that is how committed to this blog I am).


Chipotle 1 ; Red Rooter 0


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