Chipotle engaged sports fans by running a contest during the NBA Finals called "Freeting." Each time a sports announcer said the word "free" viewers could check the Chipotle Twitter account for a special keyword that would allow them to enter the contest via SMS. Winners received their coupons via Mobile Wallet, and push notifications reminded winners to utilize the offer. The program drove engagement with the Chipotle brand on social media and on its app, which contributed toward corporate goals including customer retention and long-term engagement.
Objective and Context:
Chipotle created a campaign called "Freeting," a combination of the words free and tweeting, to create an emotional connection with consumers and build brand awareness and mobile engagement. The company wanted to engage consumers through multiple mobile channels in a unique way while working toward the company goals of promoting free delivery, expanding its loyalty program, and increasing mobile subscribers.
Chipotle measured social interactions such as retweets, likes, and comments to understand brand engagement during this campaign. The social buzz from participants generated additional brand exposure and shed light into Chipotle customers' perceptions of the brand.
Chipotle's intended audience were socially connected sports fans who fit into generations Y and Z. The brand utilized second-screen interaction by leveraging television viewing and social media engagement simultaneously.
The concept was a mobile-first promotional contest. Entry into the contest was available to anyone who had access to a smartphone and had a Twitter account. The program ran during the NBA Finals, and when sports announcers mentioned the word "free," participants were prompted to visit Chipotle's Twitter feed for a unique keyword. If participants were not watching the NBA Finals, they could keep refreshing the Chipotle Twitter page to find the keywords. Participants were instructed to text the keyword to a special number to be considered for the chance to win a free entrée. If chosen as a winner, a coupon for a free meal would be available for download to the user's mobile wallet.
Overall Campaign Execution:
Chipotle combined SMS, mobile wallet, and Twitter for the Freeting promotion. These channels got offers into the hands of eager fans for immediate use. Mobile wallet notifications were sent to winners who had saved their offer to their devices to remind them to redeem it if they hadn't already.
After Game Three, the brand tweaked the strategy. Chipotle sent out a tweet informing its fans that the company's Twitter account was getting switched to private. This encouraged participants to follow Chipotle's Twitter account prior to the game to participate.
Chipotle used 425 keywords, and each keyword had a certain number of offers available. Once the offers ran out, the text message copy changed, urging fans to try their luck with the next keyword. The immediacy of SMS created a sense of urgency among fans. If fans received an offer, they were taken to a landing page where they could then save the offer to their Mobile Wallets for future use.
Participants were also prompted to sign up for Chipotle's marketing text messaging program to receive future alerts and updates from the brand. The text messaging program gained 40,000 new subscribers over the six NBA games. Chipotle was able to leverage the new subscribers from Freeting to drive signups for its loyalty program and promote its free delivery offer.
This program was a smashing success. At some points during the games, the agency was processing messages at 1,300 messages per second. Total message volume for this promotion was three million messages, and 1.8 million fans participated. Almost 75 percent of participants played more than once and averaged 7.7 attempts. The excitement of potentially winning a free burrito kept fans engaged throughout the games in a unique way that didn't take fans away from the game.
Freeting got the attention of basketball fans (and even non-basketball fans). Out of the 1.8 million fans who participated, 263,000 were unique. Chipotle generated 74,000 offer redemptions over a one-and-a-half-month period. Two weeks before the offer expired, an expiration notification was sent via Mobile Wallet to create a sense of urgency for users to redeem their offer. This notification drove a 28 percent lift in redemption. Seventy-nine percent of promotional redemption orders occurred in stores, driving additional store traffic revenue.
Chipotle's Twitter account gained 64,900 new followers since the start of the campaign, and this has generated over 963 million earned media impressions and more than 60 million organic Twitter impressions. Chipotle was trending on Twitter during all six games of the Freeting campaign. As eager fans were texting to find out if they were one of the lucky winners of a free entrée, they were also interacting with the brand's Twitter account through sharing memes, commenting on Chipotle tweets, favoriting, and retweeting, which served to supplement the campaign, helping it reach additional users.
Freeting was so successful that a second smaller-scale Freeting promotion was launched during an episode of the The Bachelorette. This version of the campaign distributed 1,000 offers within seconds. Chipotle expects to run more Freeting campaigns in the near future.