'It's not easy to find the right people': Chipotle on building in-house capabilities

The burrito chain outlines its next step following a recovery from its 2015 food safety woes.

Chipotle’s CMO Chris Brand is working on building in-house operations at Chipotle after he helped turn the chain’s fortunes around in the aftermath of a harrowing food safety crisis.

"We are building internal agency capabilities," Brandt said, speaking at the ANA Masters of Marketing Week conference in Orlando.

"We have really started from zero in that regard. It’s not easy to find the right people to make that happen, so we’re building it, but it just takes a little bit of time," he said. 

Venables Bell & Partners and MullenLowe Mediahub have handled creative and media business respectively for Chipotle since 2017. 

In 2015 the brand was at the center of a food safety crisis in which customers were sickened at several stores around the U.S. -- a fact that Brandt acknowledged. 

"If you know Chiptole, you probably remember this -- we had some issues with food safety in 2015. From 2015 all the way up until about the beginning of 2018, Chipotle was struggling," he said. 

But since then the company has rebounded after appointing a new CMO and CEO early in 2018. 

According to Brandt, there were four big changes on the marketing side that helped fuel that growth.

"We made major changes to our marketing philosophy, our culture, and our tone." 

This meant big shifts in the company, including relocating its headquarters from Denver to Newport Beach in California last year. 

The tone of the company also shifted to be more in touch with current consumer culture, including proclamations that yes, Chipotle does deliver to Area 51 ahead of the much memed about raid. 

But perhaps most effective of all was Chitpole’s focus on its ingredients, pushing the fact that everything is prepared fresh in its stores each morning. 

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