Chipotle Exploring ‘the Possibility of a New Agency’

By Erik Oster 

Denver-based fast casual chain Chipotle is launching a creative review, seeking an agency partner to shape future marketing efforts on a project basis.

“We are working with Pile & Company as we explore the possibility of a new agency to help us with some marketing programs we are planning for 2017,” Chipotle communications director Chris Arnold told Adweek. “We are always evaluating our roster of agency partners based on current and anticipated needs.”

Chipotle has worked with Austin-based GSD&M since 2014, and that shop is among those being considered for future projects. The client signed also VICE-owned Carrot Creative at its social media AOR last year, with CAA making its best-known animated spots.

Chipotle has mostly avoided the traditional advertising model, eschewing broadcast spots altogether with the lone exception of an effort which aired during the 2012 Grammy Awards. It has instead run big budget digital ads, such as 2013 spot “The Scarecrow” and the recent “A Love Story,” an original comedy series entitled “Farmed and Dangerous” and attention-grabbing in-store efforts like the 2014 “Cultivating Thought” series of stories from famous authors on its cups and other packaging. With a new agency partner, broadcast advertising could be in the brand’s future, although Arnold declined to elaborate on specific plans.

The chain is, of course, still recovering from an E.coli scare last year, and repairing its reputation will undoubtedly be part of any new agency’s job description. GSD&M recently teamed up with animation studio HouseSpecial on a digital spot emphasizing Chipotle’s commitment to quality ingredients, a longstanding selling-point for the brand.