In an effort to boost its image and win back diners, the beleaguered Mexican chain is ramping up its free-food offers with direct-mail coupons and an online game.
Chipotle Mexican Grill wants you back. The fast-casual Mexican chain is ramping up promotions to woo customers into its restaurants — after outbreaks of foodborne illness sickened hundreds of customers — causing sales to plummet. Now, with new safety procedures in place, Chipotle has launched a charm offensive, in the form of free food.
In its most recent campaign, Chipotle launched “Guac Hunter,” an online digital photo hunt game that rewards players for spotting differences in a set of two images before time runs out. Guac Hunter players who are able to successfully get through three rounds of the photo game are rewarded with a free order of chips and a guacamole side.
You can play the Guac Hunter game until March 31. All mobile offers for free guac and chips expire on April 10.
“This game allows our customers to enjoy some chips and guac on us, and perhaps encourage others to give our guac a try and see what they’ve been missing,” Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief creative officer, said in a statement.
The Mexican chain is planning to mail out 21 million coupons for food freebies in the coming weeks, Business Insider reports. The Mexican eatery also has plans to send out mobile promotions for free Chipotle food. The company is also considering rolling out a series of buy-one-get-one-free offers this summer.
Chipotle’s first big free-food promotion to rebuild its customer base was a free-burrito promotion in February. Of the 5.3 million people who downloaded the coupon offer online, roughly 2.5 million people ended up redeeming it.
“We fully expected that [offer] to go viral,” Crumpacker said. “That was our first test to see how much people really wanted to come back to Chipotle.
“Free burritos — turns out it works,” Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung said. “It brings people into the restaurants.”
Food Safety News reported that “hundreds of Chipotle’s customers were victims of six confirmed foodborne illness outbreaks in the second half of 2015.” They included cases of illness from E. coli and norovirus. FSN also reported:
Chipotle faces more than 100 civil claims by outbreak victims and their families, including a case filed by several high school students and one parent who were sickened in the Simi Valley norovirus outbreak. That case seeks class action and could include more than 1,000 members.
Meanwhile, stockholders also have filed at least two federal court cases seeking class action status against Chipotle because of the outbreaks, the report said.
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