As the 2021 NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns heat up, Chipotle has a secret. Pssst, it’s giving away up to $1 million in free burritos. And it has buried the secret in its new ads running during the championship series.
During Game One and Game Two, the brand aired a commercial that featured a hidden keyword at the end. For Game One, the first 10,000 people who caught it and texted it to 888-222 got a free burrito. That went up to 20,000 for Game Two on Thursday. The number of free burritos will be boosted by 10,000 each game up to Game Five. If the series goes to Game Six or Seven, the freebies go back down to 10,000.
Did you all see that? ????
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) July 7, 2021
Giving away free stuff may just be the oldest marketing trick in the book. In 2018, Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” used mobile geo-fencing to direct McDonald’s customers to the nearest BK with a one penny Whopper coupon. More recently, Budweiser teamed up with the White House to give every American a free beer, if 70% of Americans were vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4th.
Chipotle is known as a particularly creative marketer. It was one of the first brands to successfully navigate TikTok, and it has created fun videos about its environmental impact. It also won armloads of industry awards for its short films like 2011’s “Back To the Start,” a stop-motion animation featuring a Willie Nelson cover of a hit Coldplay song.
About 54% of Americans generally don’t pay attention to TV ads, and if they are paying attention to advertising while watching TV, it’s more likely to be on their phone. Chipotle’s chief marketing officer Chris Brandt has said in the past that, “People don’t hate marketing—they hate marketing that isn’t relevant to them.” Here, the brand has made its new ads relevant by giving people a real (delicious) reason to pay attention. Guacamole is still extra.