Chipotle Fakes Twitter Hack for 20th Anniversary Publicity Stunt

Chipotle‘s official Twitter feed, @ChipotleTweets, appeared to have been hacked when it started sending out strange, seemingly random messages this past Sunday, like:

Later in the day, the company claimed there had been a “problem” with its Twitter account, and apologized to its followers for the confusion:

All evidence seemed to point to the fact that Chipotle’s account had been hacked. However, the company has now come forward and admitted that the hack was faked as part of a publicity stunt tied to its 20th anniversary promotional campaign, which includes a 20-day long treasure hunt called “Adventurito.” Most of the tweets posted were meant as clues — or fragments of clues — for Sunday’s puzzle about the ingredients Chipotle uses to make guacamole.

“We thought that people would pay attention, that it would cut through people’s attention and make them talk, and it did that,” Chris Arnold, a Chipotle representative, told Mashable. “It was definitely thought out: We didn’t want it to be harmful or hateful or controversial…We thought that it really fit well within the context of our 20th anniversary promotion where we were putting clues in all sorts of things,” Arnold said. “We had clues pop up in a lot of places and thought that incorporating something into our social media presence would fit well into that promotion.”

Creative and harmless, but did the stunt actually get Chipotle the attention it was aiming for? Apparently so.

According to Arnold, Chipotle’s Twitter account added more than 4,000 followers on Sunday, the day of the “hack”, compared to its normal rate of  about 250 new followers per day. The “hacked” tweets, which have not been deleted, were retweeted about 12,000 times. By comparison, Chipotle’s Twitter account usually sees about 75 retweets per day.

While stunts like this can clearly garner attention, they risk meeting an unwelcome reception once Twitter users find out the truth — similar stunts created by other companies have resulted in their followers feeling annoyed at being duped. However, Arnold says the response to Chipotle’s experiment was “overwhelmingly positive.” Even so, he admits it’s unlikely Chipotle will ever be able to pull a similar prank, saying, “It’s certainly not a well you can go to often.”


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