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From TikTok to Table: Chipotle Mexican Grill Quesadilla Hack

Entered in Food & Beverage, TikTok, TikTok Partnership

Objective

Imagine if by listening to what fans were saying on TikTok about their quesadillas, Chiptole would be able to double its quesadilla sales overnight? 

Understanding what fans really care about is Chipotle's cultural superpower, and made them the first restaurant brand to reach 1M followers (now 2.2M) on TikTok. The customizable nature of the Chipotle menu means that hacks are a way of life, but one quesadilla hack that dropped on TikTok changed the conversation. 

In December 2022, TikTok creators Keith Lee and Alexis Frost ignited massive fanfare for their steak quesadilla “hack” with fajita veggies and a DIY sauce that meant mixing sour cream and Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette. The issue? The Fajita Quesadilla was not actually on the menu and the complicated nature of it made it nearly impossible to order - disrupting Chipotle employees and customers nationwide. 

Usually adding something new to the Chipotle menu requires a multi-year innovation roadmap, but Chipotle knows how important it is to show up for its superfans and community. So, partnering with Keith and Alexis, they accelerated the timeline to make the impossible possible and truly rewarding for all.

Strategy

Chipotle’s social team is hardwired into culture and when the hack conversation started gaining momentum during the quiet week before New Years (with over 90k organic social mentions begging Chipotle to make Keith and Alexis hack real ASAP), Chipotle knew this immediately needed to become a reality in true collaboration with Keith and Alexis. The new Fajita Quesadilla was the perfect addition to Chipotle's menu that could only have grown on TikTok, where the brand leveraged platform native functionality stitching and responding to influencers and fans to create its most ambitious creator collaboration, and menu launch, to-date.

 

Rather than issue a standard #sponsored post, Chipotle’s culinary team, for the first time ever, partnered with influencers (Keith + Alexis) to ditch its usual menu innovation timeline and fast-track an online hack into a readily-available menu item. In record time the recipe was tested, 100k+ employees across 3.2K restaurants were trained, and the ordering flow online and in the app was updated. The internet started whispering about the hack on December 22. Just two weeks later, in partnership with Keith and Alexis, Chipotle officially announced, via timely social content starring Keith and Alexis themselves, that the must-have hack was becoming a reality. 

 

But, we needed fans to be patient (and to stop inundating employees with requests before it was officially ready). We leveraged our relationship with the hack’s creators to put out timely response content from Keith’s local Chipotle. By giving Keith and Alexis the facts they were able to manage the detractors (and the press urging for updates) to give Chipotle a small window of  time for an expedited recipe test and to properly train its employees before unleashing the TikTok community on the restaurants.

 

On March 2, the Chipotle Fajita Quesadilla hack was ready to be ordered from Chipotle by TikTok fans everywhere. The Fajita Quesadilla launched cross-platform including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok along with email and in-app messaging to engage Chipotle’s 30M+ Rewards members.  And, if that wasn't enough, Chipotle had one final announcement up its sleeve - Keith and Alexis each got their own branded restaurant, with custom ChipotLEE and ChipotLEX marquees in Las Vegas to celebrate the momentous menu item being unveiled.

Results

This groundbreaking and creative approach to menu innovation and influencer partnerships set a new standard for the industry and for the company. At launch, the Fajita Quesadilla hack doubled Chipotle’s entire Quesadilla business, creating two of Chipotle's top digital sales days of all time. Chipotle Rewards Enrollments increased by 37% week-over-week at launch, while the campaign inspired 34M social impressions, 3.7M social engagement and 4.5B PR impressions.

 

Over two months, Chipotle worked tirelessly with Keith and Alexis - bringing them to the test kitchen to meet the Chipotle culinary team, coordinating custom content responses to their fans, collaborating on menu unveiling content and even hosting surprise delivery moments for fans. Keith and Alexis also received their own Chipotle marquee signage in Las Vegas, where they surprised even more local fans. The content and conversation surrounding these moments provided press with the assets they craved to tell the culturally relevant Chipotle menu hack story.

 

Chipotle's innovative approach went beyond a simple sponsored post as they co-created a new, national menu item with influencers, trained 100K employees, and rewarded creators more as more Fajita Quesadillas sold. By understanding its target audience and the creator economy, Chipotle continues to lead the way with innovative and impactful campaigns.

Media

Video for From TikTok to Table: Chipotle Mexican Grill Quesadilla Hack

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Day One Agency, Chipotle Mexican Grill

Links