NEWPORT BEACH, CA: Customers in a Providence, Rhode Island, Chipotle restaurant were almost too stunned to speak last month when a guy playing an ultra loud saxophone with a traffic cone stuffed in it graced them with a tune.
The impromptu video by TikTok star Wenzl Mcgowen aka “Traffic Cone Sax Man” has since been liked more than 5 million times and viewed more than 40 million times. It is similar to his other content, in which he startles unsuspecting passersby with his modified instrument. He has over 765,000 followers on TikTok.
@trafficconesaxman Traffic Cone Sax Man strikes at Chipotle #sax #art? #prank #party? ♬ original sound - Wenzl McGowen
After seeing the popular video, Chipotle reached out to Mcgowen in early December to see how the two sides could work together. This marks Traffic Cone Sax Man’s first branded partnership.
“His content is pure gold—engaging and authentic, and we knew our community would love to see us work together,” said Candice Beck, Chipotle’s director of social and influencer, via email.
The Mexican fast-casual chain likes to announce promotions on social media “in a uniquely Chipotle way,” Beck explained. So it decided to partner with Mcgowen to announce in a TikTok video posted to his page that the brand is offering free Queso Blanco with promo code QUESO22 from December 16 to 23 at participating restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
Chipotle also posted the video on its owned TikTok and Instagram channels with some paid media behind it. Additionally, the chain is amplifying the partnership with media outreach.
Did my first sponsored video! And of course it was with @chipotle!! haha! Get your free queso*! *$10 minimum purchase required. Use code QUESO22. 12/16-12/23/22, only, on Chipotle websites or mobile app only. Full terms: www.chipotle.com/queso22♬ original sound - Wenzl McGowen
Chipotle is supporting the free Queso Blanco promotion with additional media and content across channels, including TV. Day One Agency is supporting Chipotle’s social content for this campaign and BCW is handling media outreach.
Asked if Chipotle is doing any future work with Mcgowen, Beck said “it would be fun to.” She explained that he is releasing a dubstep track inspired by his performance at Chipotle in January.
“So, there may be an opportunity to work together again,” Beck added.
Over the summer, Chipotle facilitated a partnership with the “Corn Kid” — real name Tariq — after discovering he visits his local Chipotle in Queens, New York, once a week.
Tariq took the internet by storm after he appeared in a Recess Therapy video, which has gone viral on Instagram and TikTok, declaring his love for corn.
The partnership, which kicked off less than 24 hours after the Corn Kid went viral, helped Chipotle create its top Instagram and TikTok video of all time.
Beck said that working with Corn Kid was a powerful case study on executing a concept quickly that is true to Chipotle’s brand and helped to inform its decision to work with Mcgowen.
“We knew that we needed to work with [Mcgowen] while his performance at Chipotle was still in consumers' minds and relevant on TikTok,” said Beck. “We are grateful he was open to a partnership supporting free Queso Blanco.”