Get All Access for $5/mo

Chipotle's Brilliant Branding Move The fast-food franchise partners with celebrities to create beautiful short films that hint at the company's values.

By Kathleen Davis

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Fast-food chain Chipotle has made a few missteps this year, from faking a Twitter hack in July , to facing criticism over reports that it might be changing its standards on the beef it uses.

But if its most recent marketing efforts are any indication, Chipotle is holding firm with its commitment to serving only responsibly raised food. The company released a short film this week featuring a Tim Burtonesque scarecrow who has a moral crisis about his part in factory farming. The video includes a cover of "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory sung by animal rights activist and musician Fiona Apple. The video promotes a mobile app game which rewards players with a free burrito.

This is not the first time Chipotle has produced this type of video. In 2011, the company released a stop-motion short film to promote organic and sustainable farming, featuring a Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist."

The film was shown in movie theaters and the song was sold on iTunes, with 60 cents from every purchase benefiting the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, which funds initiatives that support sustainable agriculture and family farming.

What makes these videos unique, aside from the high production quality and exclusivity of big name musicians covering popular songs, is the nearly non-existent branding (Chipotle's name and logo only appear for a few seconds at the end of the videos).

It's a lesson in subtle but powerful marketing -- create something that gives your customers a strong emotional connection to your brand that they will want to share and will spark a conversation, all without making them feel they are trying to be sold something. In other words, this is how you turn apathetic customers into brand ambassadors. Plus, it doesn't hurt to have a big budget and a few celebrities.

Related: What You Can Learn From the Simple Brilliance of Chipotle's Design

Kathleen Davis is the former associate editor at Entrepreneur.com.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.

Leadership

This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.

Leadership

Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.