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Special Project

Special Project
From the 12th Annual Shorty Awards

Chipotle Mexican Grill Takes Over TikTok

Winner in TikTok Presence

Gold Honor in Consumer Brand

Audience Honor in Consumer Brand

Entered in Food & Beverage


The objective was simple, drive interest in digital ordering via the Chipotle app and website among Gen Z consumers.

Along with Millennials, Gen Z forms nearly half of Chipotle’s customer base. For Chipotle, engaging young people through its app and delivery platform is crucial. Research from The NPD Group found that Gen Z delivery orders are equal with the older, more affluent millennial category. And according to the same survey, in a relatively flat industry, digital orders are expected to triple by 2020. Further, the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association found that 24% of Gen Zers order takeout three or four times in a typical week, which is more than any other generation.

However, a recent study confirmed many marketers’ worst fears. Gen Z dislikes almost every major form of advertising. This shift from millennials relative ad acceptance creates a tough landscape for marketers. Gen Z is unlikely to respond positively to your advertising. In particular any advertising that interrupts. Brands have no choice but to find a better way. Day One’s work for Chipotle shows that better way by launching and integrating into the organic user experience on Gen Z favorite TikTok, the third most downloaded app in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2019.

Strategy and Execution

Entering the Summer of 2019, Chipotle set out to engage the almost half of its consumers that are Gen Z or Millennials, while TikTok emerged as the hottest app of the year with a majority of users under 30-years-old.

We hit on the key insight that TikTok’s large student audience would be free for the summer making it the perfect time to launch an account. We worked with the brand to help them launch a presence that would engage young people on the platform and drive engagement with Chipotle’s app and digital ordering system off platform.

We started with Challenges. Challenges are the backbone of TikTok where thousands of creators to put their own spin on a creative prompt.

The first Challenge from Chipotle came from inside the company itself. The Lid Flip Challenge based on a real employee who had a real flair for assembling burrito bowls. As a key part of our strategy, we enlisted trusted Gen Z creators who also happened to be genuine Chipotle fans as ambassadors for the brand on TikTok. These creators would be the kindling for our Challenge fire. For the Lid Flip Challenge, Chipotle launched its activities on TikTok alongside the launch of star creator David Dobrik’s account to celebrate free delivery for digital orders for Cinco de Mayo with the #LidFlipChallenge. To join in, all you needed was a phone and a delicious Chipotle burrito bowl. The campaign drove a digital sales record and more than 110k Challenge videos were submitted.

The second Challenge for National Avocado Day asked guac fans to put their own spin on Dr. Jean’s viral dance hit with a gyrating tribute to guacamole on the one day guac isn’t extra at Chipotle. We seeded the #GuacDance Challenge on TikTok with creators including Brent Rivera and Loren Grey and we set another record digital sales day and with the highest performing branded challenge on TikTok in the U.S. ever.

The #LidFlipChallenge and #GuacDance helped Chipotle break through on TikTok but in order to claim a long term home on the platform Chipotle would need to engage everyday through always on short form video. Throughout the Summer and into the Fall, Day One created more than 30 short form TikTok videos tapping into trending moments the platform. Each day the team sifted through trends on the platform and put a brand twist on them. Top content included a preview of Chipotle’s secret menu, a Tabasco Bottle Cap Challenge and a feature of Chipotle’s music festival inspired fanny pack.



In just the first six days of the challenge, 111,000 videos were submitted to the Challenge, resulting in 104 million video views. A month later, the views on the Challenge hit 268 million. And most importantly the Challenge created a record-breaking digital sales day driving app downloads and delivery among Gen Z audience. The campaign earned millions of impressions including coverage on CNBC, Fast Company, BuzzFeed News, and The Atlantic. Youth research specialists YPulse even included it in the article “These 5 Brands’ TikTok Campaigns Went Viral With Teens.”

National Avocado Day

The Challenge generated 500 million impressions from 250k fan-submitted videos. It also created a record-breaking digital sales day for Chipotle while becoming TikTok's highest performing branded challenge to run in the U.S. ever. The chain had to hand-smash twice as many avocados as usual to meet demand. Off-platform, the Challenge garnered 1.25 billion earned media impressions including coverage on Bustle and Elite Daily, key publications among the target audience.

Always On

Chipotle is now one of the most followed brands on TikTok. The account has gained over 190k followers since launching in May. Chipotle's TikTok has driven almost 5x the social conversation of their competitors on Twitter, and been recognized by Forbes and DigiDay as being a best in class case for brands on the platform. The average engagement rate on our owned content is over 12%. We've worked with creators ranging from David Dobrik and Zach King, to the Croes Brothers, Brittany Broski, and Loren Gray.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Day One Agency, Collab, Chipotle Mexican Grill