Is Chipotle Using Avocado Games to Rebuild Its Fanbase?

Norovirus? How about "No-Mo-Virus!"

Look at the picture and let that soak in… free chips and guacamole. 

Chipotle has been strenuously battling an image problem. Namely, that their burritos come with a side of E coli. Eventually the CDC found no real trend between the 50 people in 11 states who got very ill and their food. Despite this, Chipotle hired a crisis communications AOR.

Four days later, another rumor of norovirus in its food lifts into the air.

The company had to find a secret weapon, a way to bring people back to the fold regardless of their image issues. Whether the savvy marketing folks at Chipotle or the shrewd crisis folks at B-M thought of it, the world finally got what it has been crying for — the green stuff for free.

Well, kinda. 

GUAC HUNTER RULESAccording to Fast Casual, Chipotle is partnering with Avocados from Mexico to launch an online game called Guac Hunter.

The premise: Being able to spot the differences between two similar photos within a matter of seconds. Your reward: A mobile coupon for free chips and guac.

“For many of our customers, guacamole is one of their favorite menu items, and a meal at Chipotle isn’t complete without it,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief creative and development officer at Chipotle.

“…This game allows our customers to enjoy some chips and guac on us, and perhaps encourage others to give our guac a try and see what they’ve been missing.”

What Chipotle has been missing is returning guests, regular business, and the usual profits. While there is no word that Guac Hunter has anything to do with its current crisis kerfuffle, serendipity has a way of making us forget the obvious.

Don’t you love publicity stunts… public relations?

[FULL DISCLOSURE: Avocados from Mexico was this reporter’s digital client for a moment. No one from AFM or Ketchum contributed to this article.]