It almost sounds like a joke: “Toni Morrison, Judd Apatow and Malcolm Gladwell walk into a burrito joint …” But Chipotle couldn’t be more serious.
Starting today, Chipotle stores across the nation will receive shipments of new packaging — specifically bags and cups — on which are imprinted the essays of 10 well known writers.
The idea, called the “Cultivating Thought” author series, came from outside the company courtesy of novelist Jonathan Safran Foer (“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “Everything is Illuminated”), who told Vanity Fair that one day he was eating Chipotle and, apparently not yet owning a smart phone, got really bored.
“I really just wanted to die with frustration,” Foer told VF.
Necessity being the mother of invention, Foer emailed Chipotle CEO Steve Ells, whom he’d previously met, and suggested a novel idea: print essays from well-known writers on the company’s unused cup and bag space. Ells liked the idea and today it has come to life. Or the novel has died; we aren’t sure which yet.
It’s not the first time Chipotle has used their packaging for something, according to communications director Chris Arnold.
“We’ve often used our bags and cups to talk about things related to Chipotle. Farm stories, people we admire, and information about our ingredients, for example. But never anything like this,” Arnold told Digiday in an email.
“These essays are unique in that they don’t have anything to do with us, and we gave the authors complete latitude to write about whatever they wanted to.”
Among the list of well known writers are Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Malcolm Gladwell, Foer, Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live), Michael Lewis (Moneyball), Toni Morrison (Beloved), experimental psychologist Steve Pinker, Pulitzer Prize winner Sherri Fink, and short-story writer/essayist George Saunders. Foer chose the writers himself and, according to the brand, none of the works was edited in any way.
The copy is split among 6 cups and 4 bags and include whimsical designs.
“We live in a world in which there is shrinking space for literature and writing and less time than ever for quiet reflection,” said Foer in a press release provided by Chipotle. “The idea of expanding the space and time, of creating a small pocket of thoughtfulness right in the middle of the busy day, was inspiring to me – particularly given the size and diversity of the audience, which is America itself.”
Chipotle is no stranger to creating content. In February it launched a curious branded Hulu series titled “Farmed and Dangerous,” an original comedy. This more-literary move is somewhat reminiscent of New York City Transit Authority’s “Poetry in Motion” project, which features often surprising snippets of poetry plastered along subway cars and station walls. Only with more hot sauce.
“Most [fast food restaurants] use packaging as promotional space, or in cooperation with vendors, who offset the cost of producing the packaging,” said Arnold. “We’ve never done that. Instead, we’ve used that space to share our own thoughts or humor to entertain people or educate them about elements of our business. Here we’ve gone in a very different direction and simply wanted to give them something entertaining and thoughtful to read. It’s sort of analog pause in a digital world.”
The company says it’s too soon to say how long the idea will be extended, though Arnold noted “It’s something we’d like to see continue for some time, and think there’s a lot of potential.” Foer’s endorsement aside, though, it will no doubt give some literary elitists a sizable dose of indigestion.
How gamers’ engagement with short-form video is changing
To better understand how modern gamers are engaging with short-form video, Digiday teamed up with Gamesight to pull key points from an exclusive report on gamers’ shifting video consumption preferences.
Inside SAG-AFTRA’s new deal with video platform Cameo
SAG-AFTRA and Cameo, the celebrity platform that connects talent and fans, have announced a new agreement that allows members to cover brand deals through Cameo for Business (C4B). Brands will be able to access more fan-favorite professional talent through SAG-AFTRA's health and pension plans.
Digiday+ Research: Extreme pessimism about the end of the cookie levels off among agencies
Agencies are still feeling out who they think the winners and losers will be as the end of the third-party cookie draws near, but they're doing so with notably less pessimism than they have in the past.
SponsoredHow agencies’ relationships with RMNs are continuing to evolve in 2023
This article is also available in Spanish. Please use the toggle above the headline to switch languages. Visit digiday.com/es to read more content in Spanish. Sponsored by Best Buy Ads As retail media networks proliferate, agencies are increasingly identifying RMNs as valuable opportunities for their brand clients as they seek quality audience data, meaningful reporting […]
Jose Cuervo Tequila celebrates UFC’s 30th anniversary with Kevin Holland, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson ads
Mexico-based Jose Cuervo, is the first tequila brand to be a direct advertiser of the UFC with spots featuring UFC fighters Kevin Holland, a Cuervo ambassador, and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson.
Benjamin Moore is using OOH near big-box retailers to say their paint isn’t there, encouraging people shop local
The 140-year-old paint brand wants to make sure people know that it is only available at local retailers.