Here’s a case in which a company’s PR might almost regret having to contradict a viral story.
A couple of days ago a post on ThinkProgress highlighted a section of Chipotle’s annual report to investors, which expressed concern over the potential effect of global climate change and subsequent extended droughts on the availability of avocados and other produce.
“…we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost.”
The story went viral primarily due to the fact that it provided alternately bored/hungry/angry Americans with yet another excuse to scream at each other online. In other words, it was just another crappy, completely unproductive day in America’s political comment threads, which exist just to prove our theory that the human race might not be worth saving.
It took Chipotle’s PR director Chris Arnold, in a conversation with NBC News, to clarify that guacamole will not give up its status as your salad’s BFF. The ThinkProgress post came from the “standard risk factors” segment of the report, which public companies use to list worst possible scenarios for investors.
It’s true that changes in climate could make the cultivation of said avocados more difficult, which could in turn push the prices up, which could prompt Chipotle to raise the already considerable (but totally worth it) cost of adding some of the smooth green stuff to your burrito.
That said, this was simply a standard exercise in transparency as applied to investor relations. Chipotle based the completely conditional statement on the fact that the cost of farming operations (along with the cost of raising beef cattle) has indeed risen in certain markets hit by extended droughts.
We might criticize ThinkProgress for turning a small portion of a barely-there story into a political flashpoint, but of course we can’t do that because we know how blogs work.
In conclusion: If the story involves politics in any way, then don’t read the comments. Ever. Your life will be better for it.
And now we want some guacamole.