Chipotle Hides $1 Million in Burritos in TV Ads During Basketball Games

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Chipotle is activating around the 2021 Men’s Professional Basketball Championship Series and by hiding up to $1 million worth of free burritos in its TV ads.

Chipotle is activating around the 2021 Men’s Professional Basketball Championship Series and by hiding up to $1 million worth of free burritos in its TV ads.

“The hidden code ad campaign ties back to our broader strategy to meet fans where they are, drive cultural relevance for our brand, and show up in unexpected places,” said Candice Beck, Senior Manager, Social and Digital.  

Essentially, Chipotle hides a unique keyword unlocking 10,000 free burritos at the end of its ad during the first game. Fans that text the keyword to 888-222 have a chance to win the free food. Each ad throughout the series will subsequently embed messaging to drive more promos. The QSR brand will increase the number of free burritos available as the games progress. Game 3 will offer 20,000 free burritos, Game 4, 30,000 and if Game 5 happens, there will be an additional 40,000 burritos available.

The campaign is designed to appeal to a younger demographic that will be tuning in to watch the games.

“Over half our guests are Millennial or Gen Z and many of them have a passion for major sporting events,” said Beck. “Despite not being an official advertiser, we are inserting ourselves into the men’s basketball championship conversation and keeping the brand top of mind during dinner occasions throughout the series.”

The campaign comes on the heels of earlier “freeting” activations which kicked off during the series in 2019. During the 2019 campaign, every time the announcer said the word  “free” during the official coverage of the series, @chipotletweets would live tweet a unique code for a chance to win a free burrito. The brand gave away $1 million worth of free burritos during the campaign and won several awards. Sports viewers offer the brand a broadcast level opportunity to promote its ‘Real Food for Real Athletes’ initiate.

“Basketball, along with other sports, is a major focus of our marketing efforts. Our ‘Real Food for Real Athletes’ platform is focused on supporting athletes of all levels – from youth players to professionals – to perform their best by providing proper nutrition through real food and real ingredients,” said Beck. “We also know that the basketball audience is tapped into the latest trends on and off the court, so they are an important player in helping Chipotle drive culture.”

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