It’s no secret the class of 2020 (and all students) missed major milestones this year, including prom. Understanding the impact the pandemic and its social distancing limitations had on high school students around the county has been devastating.
In an interview with NPR, Dr. Ludmila De faria, a psychiatrist with Florida State University discusses how missing out on highly anticipated experiences, like prom has greatly affected teens psyche, she says they're "mourning the loss of important developmental milestones they were supposed to be doing at this time in their lives."
As a lifestyle brand who over indexes with Gen Z, Chipotle felt an obligation to create a memorable evening for those missing their traditional prom. With lots of options for virtual prom already out there, we wanted to create the best, most inviting and inclusive after-prom party ever. With the help of a celeb superfan, a philanthropic component and of course, free burritos we challenged ourselves to leverage Instagram for an over-the-top ‘extra’ special virtual evening with 25,000+ of our closest ‘friends’ – just because. No cost, no purchase necessary, just an evening of fun and philanthropy.
Considering the demographics and popularity of its appeal with high school students, we leveraged Instagram as the platform for our epic virtual after party. We created a limited-time account @ChipotleAfterParty and invited students to add their names to the (non-exclusive) guestlist by requesting access to the account. To maximize prom vibes, we ensured free food in the form of 10,000 free entrée code giveaways, new product drops and a special Instagram and Snapchat Lens for attendees to use and ‘take a photo’ with celeb superfan, David Dobrik. In addition, we hosted an Instagram Live chat with David giving fans exclusive ‘extra’ access.
The biggest draw and the most exciting component was that all students who attended the event had the opportunity to win a $25,000 scholarship. To enter, students simply needed to follow our event page and comment on our scholarship post. We received over 51,000 entries. To sweeten the deal for finalists (and students on a budget), we awarded two scholarship finalists with burritos for a year – that’s 52 free burritos, one for every week of the year.
Our $25,000 scholarship winner was La Porte High School senior Josselyn De Leon of Houston, Texas. Josselyn is the first in her family to attend college and is pursuing a career in STEM majoring in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Josselyn and her family came to America when she was 12 from Mexico and learned English as a second language. The hardworking dedicated student was beyond thrilled to win the coveted prize, and as Teen Vogue reported was in a ‘joy filled state of shock.’
To round out the prom experience, Chipotle partnered with elf cosmetics on a burrito-inspired cosmetic set as well as notable DIY creator Sophie Parker (@WIFENYC) to show teens how to create corsages and boutonnieres for their big night using Chipotle's famed burrito foil.
Seeing our $25,000 scholarship winner, Josselyn’s reaction made the activation more than successful it made our after-prom party, priceless. In addition, we exceeded our own expectations, grew our fan base, gave away over 10,000 burritos to our nation’s youth and had a lot of fun! Result highlights include:
The positive sentiment across media was also a reflection of success. Delish noted that, “For high schoolers who are unable to attend their actual proms, Chipotle is hosting an online after-prom party on Instagram with David Dobrik. Guests will be able to win meals and prizes, and one lucky winner will receive a $25,000 scholarship.” Mobile Marketer added that, “As part of its sponsorship of the virtual prom, Chipotle's influencer marketing effort includes a collaboration with DIY creator Sophie Parker who will show teens how to craft corsages and boutonnieres for prom using Chipotle's burrito foil.” Moreover, Restaurant Business Online reported that Chipotle, “has worked to build engagement with its brand, even during the COVID-19 crisis.” AdAge and Adweek also mentioned the afterparty in roundups of how brands are creatively engaging with fans during the COVID-19 pandemic.