Daily Insights

Chipotle Peppers In Politics

By: Mackenzie Baker | Oct 06, 2020

Chipotle lets customers wear their restaurant pride and register to vote at the same time through its new social justice campaign. 

The restaurant brand created “Chi-Vote-Le” t-shirts that feature a QR code in the shape of Chipotle’s pepper logo on the sleeve. When scanned using a smartphone camera, the pepper QR code pulls up a voter registration site run by TurboVote. By making its shirts mobile-centric, Chipotle could spur app downloads in addition to voter registrations, according to a Gartner report on the topic. The t-shirts cost $11.03, in reference to Election Day on November 3, with all sales donated to the nonprofit voting organization Democracy Works. Within one day of launching on the Chipotle Goods site, the Chi-Vote-Le shirts sold out. Though the brand has not revealed if more shirts will be released before election day, consumers can still check out its microsite, which offers voting information and polling locations. Microsite users can also enter their email address to receive reminders from Chipotle on when and where to vote.  

Driving political activism through branded merchandise could help Chipotle increase loyalty with its social justice-driven consumers. Given how quickly the shirts sold out, it appears that Chipotle’s audience was hungry for the push, which could set the brand up for future political statements. By merging a digital experience with a physical product, Chipotle could appeal to tech-savvy, Gen Z consumers, who are a key target of its marketing initiatives, and have the potential to make up 37% of this year’s U.S. Electorate. But Chipotle isn’t the only brand betting on social justice, as Puma gave in-store customers face masks if they signed up to vote. As younger consumers are drawn to apparel from their favorite brands, Puma and Chipotle’s campaigns could strengthen engagement with Gen Z shoppers-turned-voters, and vice versa. 

Chipotle’s Chi-Vote-Le shirts give customers a chance to wear their voter pride on their sleeve. While the campaign could drive voter registrations, it also provides an opportunity for Chipotle to expand its retail presence, further engaging customers beyond its restaurants and into a lifestyle.