Chipotle Picks Venables Bell & Partners Over Wieden + Kennedy in Creative Review

By Patrick Coffee 

If we may offer our completely unsolicited opinion, Chipotle makes great—if slightly overpriced— food. There’s something about a taco bowl that justifies a five-block walk.

But the brand is facing some problems with which you may be familiar, and it has chosen VB&P and MullenLowe Mediahub to try and solve them with the magic of advertising.

According to a release published today, the chain picked those two after a four-month review involving as many as 20 shops on creative and media. According to sources with direct knowledge of the matter, Wieden + Kennedy also made it to the final round of the pitch along with GSD&M and Minneapolis shop mono.

“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,” said lead marketer Mark Crumbacker.

Keith Lusby of MullenLowe Mediahub called Chipotle “the ultimate challenger brand, defying category norms about how food is sourced, prepared and served” and VB&P president Paul Birks-Hay said, “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.”

GSD&M created the “Ingredients Reign” campaign and will remain on the Chipotle roster “through the duration.”

The brand’s larger problems, unfortunately, remain. In November, “two union-affiliated shareholders” proposed pushing founder and chairman Steve Ells out of the organization entirely. Such is the risk of going public, we suppose.

The size of this account is unclear, because Kantar declined to provide numbers and Chipotle is famous for not spending too much on marketing. That will presumably change in the months to come.

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