Chipotle, Willie, And The Five Keys To Effective Cause Marketing

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When the delicate art of cause marketing works, it is wonderfully powerful.

Take the new initiative that Chipotle restaurants has embarked on. Chipotle has always been about “food with integrity”, supporting local growers and ranchers and purchasing organic and naturally grown crops and meats.

To demonstrate their commitment to this cause, they commissioned a short film by filmmaker Johnny Kelly that depicts a farmer who grows weary of the industrial menace his family farm has become, and takes his farm back to it’s roots, to a more sustainable future.

They invited Willie Nelson to sing the theme song. But not just any song. Willie sings the haunting Coldplay song “The Scientist”, with a chorus that reminds us ”nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be so hard… I’m going back to the start”.

The combined impact of this little movie and its understated score is massive.

This is cause marketing at its best, and here are five key reasons why:

1. A relevant brand. Chipotle has held sustainable farming close to it’s heart from the very beginning. Nobody doubts their dedication to the cause. This didn’t come out of left field. How many times have you seen a company jump on board the cause-of-the-day and wondered why they are really getting involved?

2. The partnerships make sense. Willie Nelson is a perfect choice, with his outlaw country roots. And the Coldplay song is ideal, with a haunting chorus that will stick in your head for hours.

3.  It doesn’t preach. The film conveys the simple and powerful message that a sustainable future isn’t easy, but it is vitally important and worthwhile. Nobody appreciates being preached to or spoken down to.

4. Nothing is being sold. In fact, the only connection to Chipotle is at the end, when the farmer loads product onto a Chipotle delivery truck and drives away. Cause marketing fails when it tries to sell product, and it nearly always tries – in some way – to sell.

5. Total transparency. All proceeds from the song and film (available now on iTunes), go towards the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. Not a “percentage of the profits”, but all proceeds. When cause marketing campaigns are vague about where the money is going, we all get suspicious. Cause marketing must be transparent to be accepted as sincere.



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cause marketing, Chipotle, Uncategorized, Willie Nelson 7 Comments