How Chipotle responded to Travis Kelce’s ‘charmingly frequent misspellings’ of its name

The chain saw a marketing opportunity when Kelce's old tweets featuring #Chipolte went viral.

(Photo credit: Chipotle, used with permission)

Campaign: Chipolte
Companies: Chipotle
Agency Partners: BCW Global (media relations); Day One Agency (social media)
Duration: November 15 – December 1, 2023

Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, is good at playing football, hosting a podcast and dating Taylor Swift. Correctly spelling Chipotle? Not so much. 

As such, Chipotle saw a marketing opportunity. 

Strategy

In 2011, Kelce, then a student at University of Cincinnati, posted on Twitter (now called X) that he “went from class to therapy, now I need some #chipolte and then I'm off to check out my new apt!!”

Apparently autocorrect was not yet a thing because the restaurant is spelled “Chipotle.”

Fast-forward to 2023 and the company’s “incredible social listening team noticed Travis' old tweets featuring #Chipolte gaining significant traction on the channels and immediately flagged the conversation cross functionally,” Erin Wolford, Chipotle VP of external communications, stated in an email to PRWeek.

As such, the Chipotle creatives saw an opportunity to “supercharge our superfans and ensure Chipotle remains top of mind in creative and relatable ways," said Wolford. "With a team of in-house Swifties, we recognized the momentum behind Travis’ charmingly frequent misspellings of ‘Chipolte’ and knew there was an opportunity to engage authentically.”

Tactics

To do so, the marketers decided to share Kelce’s post with a lyric from Swift’s song “Anti-Hero.”

“It's me, hi,” Chipotle posted on X

The brand also replied to users’ comments on the post. 

The creatives were trying for a “clever, fun, IYKYK [if you know, you know] tone,” Wolford said.

After seeing a strong response to Chipotle’s social media activity, the marketers decided to rename one of the restaurant’s locations in Kansas City near Arrowhead Stadium to Chipolte before a Chiefs game.

No matter how creative the campaign was, Chipotle was not exactly alone in using Kelce and Swift in a marketing effort. Were the creatives concerned that people might be tired of hearing about the football player and pop star?

“We carefully evaluate opportunities like this to ensure we only enter conversations that feel organic to our brand,” Wolford wrote. “The positive response reaffirms that Chipotle fans appreciate the relatability of Travis’ ongoing misspelling of ‘Chipolte.’ ”

Results

The campaign posts generated 1.8 million views on Twitter; and 2.1 million views on Instagram, according to the company. In total, the posts received more than 75,000 likes.

The campaign received coverage from TodayPeopleUSA Today, the Daily Mail and Entrepreneur.


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