Chipotle Picks Venables Bell & Partners, MullenLowe Mediahub to Help Turn Its Brand Around

Chain hopes to bounce back from E. coli scandal

Chipotle has picked Adweek's 2016 Breakthrough Agency of the Year, Venables Bell & Partners, and MullenLowe Mediahub to handle its creative and media business after a review.

According to the press release, more than 20 agencies competed for accounts. Creative Artists Agency makes the animated spots for which the chain is best-known, and GSD&M of Austin created Chipotle's most recent ad campaigns. It is not clear at this time whether the Omnicom agency participated in the review, but its contract will extend through the remainder of the nutrition-focused "Ingredients Reign" campaign.

"After considering some extremely talented agencies, we decided that retaining two best in class partners to work with us on the advertising and media roles gave us the best combination of talent to help us as we continue to evolve our marketing programs," said Chipotle chief marketing and development officer Mark Crumpacker in a statement.

He continued: "Venables impressed us from the beginning with their insights and ability to translate our strategy into really compelling advertising, while Mediahub demonstrated extraordinary analytic and media targeting capabilities. Working together with our internal marketing team and these new agency partners positions us well to improve the impact of our marketing programs over the coming months."

MullenLowe Mediahub executive director Keith Lusby said client and agency "share a belief in challenging the status quo to deliver extraordinary results," calling Chipotle "the ultimate challenger brand." VB&P president Paul Birks-Hay added, "We are delighted to be partnering with the team at the Chipotle. They have an unmatched creative track record, and we are excited to be developing the next generation of work together."

The fast-casual chain looks to rebound after a year-plus period that included an E. coli scare and the arrest of Crumpacker on charges of cocaine possession. After an initial drop, its stock prices have recovered in 2017, as it focuses on promoting a new rewards program for returning customers.

Kantar Media did not provide spending numbers for Chipotle, which has made headlines in the past for a limited marketing budget that favors earned media over paid.