Chipotle cultivates festival excitement

Last fall, restaurant chain Chipotle hosted the inaugural "Cultivate Food, Ideas & Music Festival" in Chicago, which featured artisanal dishes, celebrity chefs, and live music.

Company: Chipotle
Campaign: Cultivate Food, Ideas & Music Festival
PR agency: Edelman, Linhart Public Relations, and Wagstaff Worldwide
Launch: Early September

Objective: Last fall, restaurant chain Chipotle hosted the inaugural “Cultivate Food, Ideas & Music Festival” in Chicago, which featured artisanal dishes, celebrity chefs, and live music. This year, Chipotle will add another location in Denver on October 6 in addition to the September 15 event in Chicago.

“We want to create an event series that could be the premier food and music event in the country,” says Chipotle director of communications Chris Arnold.

“We also want to create an experiential program that helps us connect with customers in an emotional way that goes well beyond the traditional fast-food, limited-time offer marketing,” he explains.

Idea: While food, entertainment, and chef demonstrations may be a draw, Chipotle organizers hope attendees leave the free events learning something new about food, says Arnold.“We want to create an experience that's unique to our business within the fast-food, casual restaurant sector,” he adds.

Festival programs include tasting tents featuring locally crafted food, beer, and wine, as well as a kids' area with potting kits to grow food at home.

Chefs participating in this year's festivals include Richard Blais, Michael Chiarello, Amanda Freitag, Sarah Grueneberg, and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson. Bands performing include G Love & Special Sauce and Okkervil River.

Tools: The fast-food chain will use social media, including a Facebook page, Twitter account, and website dedicated to the festival. Arnold says the company will also employ in-store components, pitch to traditional media, and live-tweet during the events.

Measurement: Last year's attendance in Chicago reached 17,000, according to Arnold. Chipotle hopes to match or exceed that number and will gauge success by attendance numbers and feedback following the festival.

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