Chipotle gives away $100K in bitcoin for National Burrito Day

Dive Brief:

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill will celebrate National Burrito Day on April 1 by giving away $100,000 in free burritos and $100,000 of bitcoin cryptocurrency. The fast-casual chain is challenging customers to guess the correct six-digit passcode on its “Burritos or Bitcoin” microsite to unlock the prizes, per a press release.
  • Chipotle plans to give out $25,000 of bitcoin to three customers as a grand prize, $500 in the cryptocurrency to 50 winners and free burritos to 10,000 entrants. After registering at the site, each player will get 10 chances to crack the code for a chance to win the prizes. Players who don’t guess the passcode will receive a special offer from Chipotle.
  • Winners need to have a U.S.-based custodial wallet with either Coinbase or Gemini — companies that let people set up digital wallets for free — to accept bitcoin as a prize, according to the contest rules. The campaign comes amid heightened interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Dive Insight:

Chipotle’s “Burritos or Bitcoin” contest taps into the heightened interest in the crypocurrency, whose value jumped 10-fold from a year earlier to a record of more than $60,000 a coin earlier this month. Bitcoin this year has gained greater attention after billionaire Elon Musk announced that his electric-car startup Tesla had bought $1.5 billion of the cryptocurrency and would start accepting bitcoins for payments later this year. 

Chipotle can parlay the heightened interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into greater participation in its content for National Burrito Day.  The passcode game is a playful nod to Stefan Thomas, the founder and CEO of tech firm Coil, who infamously lost the password to a hard drive that stored $387 million in Bitcoin. In partnership with Thomas, Chipotle is positioning the contest as a mock “chiptocurrency” rescue mission. The campaign comes as other marketers have leveraged the buzz around cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, including recent efforts by Michelob Ultra, Pizza Hut and P&G’s Charmin.

By asking people to register for a chance to win burritos or bitcoin, Chipotle can continue to build out its first-party data about consumers for future campaigns. First-party data has become much more valuable to marketers as they confront the pending loss of audience tracking technologies like third-party cookies and device identifiers amid consumer concerns about privacy. Chipotle has taken a similar tack with its Chipotle Rewards program that was expanded nationwide in 2019, giving the burrito chain a way to learn more about its consumers and provide them with incentives to either order through its digital channels or visit its locations repeatedly. Chipotle has shown a willingness to experiment with the latest payment technologies, including its giveaway of $250,000 through Venmo to promote its rewards program two years ago.

Chipotle has been forward-thinking in its approach to technology. The company this month made its first significant investment in a third-party technology company by participating in a funding round for Nuro, an autonomous delivery startup. The fast-casual chain also expanded the adoption of digital technology with its digital kitchens and Chipotlanes efforts.

The “Burritos or Bitcoin” sweepstakes follows several efforts to engage younger consumers through digital channels. The fast-casual chain this month again collaborated with beauty brand E.l.f. Cosmetics on a limited-time menu item and makeup collection inspired by burrito ingredients. The campaign include activations on video-sharing site YouTube, social video app TikTok and live audio app Clubhouse.

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