Can Chipotle bounce back after food recalls and health scares?

Business management systems

E. coli and norovirus caused massive recalls, a national shut-down of all of Chipotle’s stores, and resulted some of its lowest profits in years. But, there is hope and recovery, and yesterday Chipotle launched a new video marketing campaign to help bring back the love for the burrito chain. What can you learn from Chipotle about how to handle PR and marketing when your food manufacturing business suffers a painful recall and health crisis?

The sweetest Love Story to bring back customers to Chipotle

The animated short, “A Love Story” is the first major commercial since the company’s devastating outbreaks late last year. As a fun and sweet story, the short is an attempt to help the public focus on the company’s commitment to fresh ingredients and inspiring customers to live small (with their big burritos and tacos).
The story opens up with a boy and girl across the street from each other each selling their drinks – fresh squeezed lemonade and orange juice. The boy is smitten with the girl, who happens to also have more customers. He realizes he can’t buy anything nice for the girl with no customers, so he makes the effort to advertise and it works – but only in the girl losing her customers. A duel who can make the most money ensues and ultimately losing the original reason they each went into business.
We won’t ruin it for you, but eventually, they see their mistake and all is well again in the world – love wins!

“But when they can no longer recognize their monstrous creations, they ultimately discover what truly matters, their love for real food…and each other,” Chipotle said.

Interestingly, the brand of Chipotle is never mentioned throughout the video, except at the very end. It’s an inspiring story that’s supposed to give you the warm fuzzy feelings, which you then associate with the Chipotle brand. You can watch the full 4 minute video here.

The History of Chipotle’s Food Recall and Health Scare

A year ago, Chipotle was being touted as a revolutionary thinker by promoting more organic ingredients and saying ‘no’ to GMOs in its restaurants. All that positive PR couldn’t help them in October of 2015 when news of the E.coli virus made hundreds sick, closed down stores and caused massive disruptions while Chipotle tried to figure out what had caused the breakout. Nothing was ever found, but continued outbreaks and sick customers caused Chipotle to close all of its nearly 2,000 stores for one day in February for a food safety meeting.
Sales tanked by 30% in December, yet by February the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) wanted to assure you that the E. coli virus was gone from Chipotle stores. Then just one month later, an outbreak of the norovirus in the Northwest caused stores to again close down while they worked quickly to contain the virus. The norovirus can spread from person to person or through contaminated food and surfaces, and is known to spread quickly through cruise ships.
With all that’s gone on throughout the last year Chipotle needed a little love, and it hopes this new video will help win back its customer base and change the conversation to one of its high-quality food and flavors.

Quality Management to handle Food Recalls

The best way to handle a recall is to be prepared for one, and a Quality Management software system can help the food and beverage industry be ready to control a situation before it threatens to cripple a business. This system replaces all of your spreadsheets and 3rd party software, including:

  • Document Control
  • Product Specifications
  • Lab Tests and Inspections
  • Non Conformance Management
  • Corrective & Preventative Actions Management
  • Recall Management
  • Audit Management
  • New Product Development
  • Robust reporting and alerts

Contact us to review your current Quality Management needs.