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From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

Moe’s Capitalizes on Competitor Closing, Touts “We’re Open!”

Entered in Integrated Campaign

About this entry

While nationally known and loved, Moe's Southwest Grill has always been the underdog to category leader Chipotle. In 2015, however, the industry's darling was plagued with a series of unfortunate food-borne illness events, including E. coli, salmonella and norovirus outbreaks in 14 states, sickening hundreds of customers. Chipotle's sales were down significantly and they attempted to re-establish themselves as an "industry leader in food safety" by planning a highly publicized, mandatory store closing on Feb. 8, for an all-staff meeting on food safety. Moe's saw this as an opportunity to generate awareness for the brand, position ourselves as a leader in food safety and to drive traffic. Moe's took advantage of the closure in two phases. Phase one: Chipotle fans were vulnerable, confused and looking for a safe place to turn for a delicious burrito. Enter Moe's. The brand who has been there the whole time with the freshest, most high quality ingredients, that maybe hadn't been noticed before, or was always just thought of as a friend. For the broken‐hearted, we wanted to be their Rebound Burrito. To fans who have always known Moe's is the best, we encouraged them to support their friends in need by presenting all guests with a buy-one-get-one free (BOGO) trial offer on digital and social channels. Phase two started on the day of the closing by creating a media-centric story through a full-page ad in USA Today, stating "We're Open."

Why does this entry deserve to win?

The goals were to drive coverage and awareness for the brand, to position ourselves as a leader in food safety, to gain share of consumers within the category and to drive traffic. There were two phases of this program. The first was from Jan. 24 through Feb. 7 and consisted of the BOGO offer, which we posted on the website, distributed through bouncebacks in-restaurant, and leveraged in both promoted social posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as in our efforts to target and engage with our competitor's customers and those talking about E.Coli online. Phase two was all of the elements that were executed on Feb. 8, which consisted of the USA Today ad and media tour, email blasts and additional promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter.


Leverage USA Today ad as newsworthy opportunity to be part of stories around Chipotle closing on Feb. 8 and turn conversations from "They're closed" to "We're open."

Conduct media tour, leverage President Bruce Schroder for in-person interviews with media about Moe's business model and stance on food safety.

Leverage BOGO offer to seamlessly insert ourselves in the Chipotle conversation, encouraging Chipotle fans (and lovers of burritos in general) to give Moe's a try.

Breakthrough creative represents the Moe's brand by being bold, irreverent, and not taking ourselves too seriously.


Overall, this campaign was a huge success across the board, exceeding all of our objectives. As anticipated, Chipotle's closing was widely covered, and nearly every mention included Moe's being open and our BOGO offer, solidifying for the brand a place in the national pop culture conversation.

Total media impressions for the entire campaign equaled 640M (ad equivalency value of $7 million).

Social media impressions from media outlets and media contacts of nearly 57M, including 48 Twitter posts and 8 Facebook posts.

National print publication mentions in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, The Daily Best, Elite Daily, USA Today and Mashable.

Promoted social posts: Phase one promoted posts ran Jan. 24 – Feb 7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, generating a total of 13.2M impressions. The second phase on Feb. 8 aligned with USA Today messaging, and the posts on Facebook and Twitter generated a total of 4.7M impressions. landing page: Jan 25 – Feb. 7 received 927,978 pageviews (811,476 unique); week of Feb. 8 received 2.6M pageviews (996,000 unique users).

Social Media: Nearly 2,500 new Facebook fans, 660 new Twitter followers and Vine account more than doubled the amount of loops, topping 1.19M.

Social Sentiment: From Jan. 19 to Jan. 31, sentiment increased by 20% (Days leading up to BOGO contained negative sentiment. Since BOGO started, there was hardly any – down 14%, and much higher positive sentiment.).


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Moe's Southwest Grill


Entry Credits