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How Chipotle’s Street Fighter brand integrations show they can work alongside more traditional in-game ads

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Chipotle has become firmly entrenched in the fighting game community, and the brand’s recent partnership with “Street Fighter 6” is no exception. By offering users access to immersive in-game brand activations alongside more traditional in-game banner ads, Chipotle has made itself synonymous with the popular title — without turning off its hardcore gamer fans.

This Saturday, October 21, marks the end of Chipotle’s three-week-long run of branded tournaments inside the prominent Capcom fighting game “Street Fighter 6.” Building on the restaurant brand’s partnership with Evo, the annual fighting game championship, earlier this summer, the “Street Fighter” brand integration offers users access to three daily tournament brackets, with winners scoring prizes in the form of in-game currency. The financial agreement was not disclosed.

“We were thinking about doing it in July. There were a bit of delays in getting things set up; we obviously want to have a flawless experience for the players, and it just took a little bit more time,” said Chipotle senior manager of brand marketing Scott Robinson. “The brackets were going to be in July, but the cosmetics were always going to be in October — so we almost like it better this way, because now everything’s really happening at the same time.”

Chipotle’s partnership with “Street Fighter” has been met with considerable enthusiasm among the broader fighting game community. Prominent FGC influencers such as Justin Wong posted about the integration on social media, and the in-arena audience at Evo cheered for Chipotle every time the brand showed up at the event. 

Beyond those intangibles, the reach of the partnership was demonstrated by Capcom’s offer of 250 in-game “Fighter Coins” to any and all participating users. The game developer offered players a total of 40,000 redemption codes for the coins, and they sold out almost immediately.

“One of the proud moments was the Fighter Coin redemption program that we did with Chipotle, kicking off during launch week,” said Capcom senior brand marketing manager Jaclyn Simmons. “We had a 100 percent redemption rate of Fighter Coins during that campaign.”

Chipotle’s integration into “Street Fighter” was not limited to daily tournaments. The brand has also gained access to more static advertising units located inside “Street Fighter’s” in-game “Battle Hub.” Robinson told Digiday that the restaurant brand was excited to test out the ads, saying that “they’re not pure brand ads; we actually use a special red pepper logo for all of our gaming activations, so it really fits into the game.”

“You will see static ads in the game, as well as some non-static ads — but that wouldn’t be something we’d do without the rest of the stuff,” Robinson added.

Moving forward, Chipotle has no plans to reduce its involvement with the fighting game community, which Robinson views as a relatively uncluttered “white space” offering the brand an unprecedented opportunity to reach both casual and competitive gamers. Capcom is pleased with the results, too, and plans to explore similar brand partnerships in its other popular titles as well, although Simmons declined to share more details about future plans. 

“Chipotle is in the Battle Hub in a very additive way — hosting tournaments. That’s not in the esport, that’s in the actual game,” said Chris Mann, svp of the agency Rev/XP, which helped facilitate the deal. “So we have already established Chipotle as a brand within ‘Street Fighter’ that the community loves. They’re cheering for our ads.”

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