This spring, critically ill COVID-19 patients unexpectedly flooded the healthcare system and overwhelmed hospitals and medical facilities throughout the nation. Working exceptionally long hours under significant stress, healthcare personnel around the country became our hometown heroes. Many of these individuals were missing meals and putting their personal health and wellness behind their drive to serve and care for others.
In a message to healthcare workers dated March 18, 2020, World Health Organization specifically called out the need to take care of one’s self advising to ‘eat sufficient and healthy food.’
Grateful for the contribution of those working on the frontlines of the pandemic and reflecting the brand’s purpose to Cultivate a Better World, Chipotle wanted to help feed the nation’s medical community working tirelessly to care for our own communities with healthy, real food. We set a goal to bring joy and provide a little ‘extra’ something for medical teams around the country. In addition to a standalone food donation, we challenged ourselves to find a unique way to allow Chipotle fans to contribute to the cause without asking for a financial contribution.
Understanding the power of food as fuel, on National Burrito Day, we launched the first installment of “Burritos for Healthcare Heroes’ a 100,000 free burrito donation to healthcare workers who registered their facility online during National Health Worker Week on April 6 – 10, 2020. While the initiative was an overwhelming success, we wanted to do more.
As a brand with passionate superfans, we wanted to find a way to let them in on the action too. We took our initiative one step further finding a scalable solution to let Chipotle fans contribute to the ‘Burritos for Healthcare Heroes’ program in a safe way -without asking for funds and in compliance with the nation’s stay-at-home orders. After some thought and collaboration ‘4HEROES’ was born.
A simple ‘BOGO’ – Buy One, Give One offer. For every burrito order purchased on Chipotle.com or the Chipotle app between April 21 and April 26, named “4HEROES,” we donated a burrito to a healthcare worker. Leveraging the ‘name your entree’ function on Chipotle’s digital ordering platform was a first for the brand, and as we know it, the industry. With free delivery, the promotion allowed fans to do something philanthropic, while eating nutritious food they could feel good about. Through the second promotion, we donated an additional 100,000 free burritos.
Healthcare workers were able to register online for the chance to receive free burritos starting on Nurses Appreciation Day, May 6, 2020. The registration page allowed healthcare workers to request just one burrito or burrito boxes with up to 10 burritos to share with colleague based on the size of their team or facility. Upon activating the 4HEROES registration site, verified by SheerID, healthcare professionals began ordering about 1,000 burritos a minute.
Our crew members were able to contribute too with personal and positive messages of encouragement, thank you notes and drawings on the burrito boxes that were delivered. We also created custom stickers with an inspirational message for each burrito. This was one of the most powerful components of the campaign as our healthcare hero recipients posted and shared the messages on their own social media. The UGC created a rush of positivity flooding our feed with ‘good’ during a truly difficult time.
We created a 360 marketing and communications campaign supporting each burrito drop not only to drive awareness but to ensure maximum participation. To be effective, the campaign needed to target both consumers and healthcare workers. Local broadcast media especially loved the story, encouraging their local viewers to participate. Our efforts included earned media, social media, an in-app banner, communication to our 15 million Chipotle Rewards loyalty customers and an internal communications campaign to rally Chipotle employees.
The Burrito for Healthcare Heroes campaign surpassed our expectations and resulted in a delivery of over 200,000 free burritos to medical facilities across the country. The overwhelming positive feedback and immense UGC was not only unexpected but very meaningful. We accomplished our goal – to help feed ‘the front line’ and spread a little joy during a time of chaos.
In addition, Ad Age, created a webinar entitled ‘How brands can take meaningful action right now’ with Chipotle CMO, Chris Brandt speaking to this activation as an example of how doing good can actually help drive both society and business forward. For us, this held a lot of weight, it meant that our act of social good could continue its impact beyond our scope, but impact and influence a greater movement towards ‘doing good’ as a part of business.