- Chipotle Mexican Grill is giving mobile users a chance to win free guacamole for a year by guessing secret passwords in text messages. The fast-casual chain's "Unlock the Guac" challenge is part of its yearly celebration of National Avocado Day on July 31, per an announcement.
- To participate in Chipotle's challenge, smartphone users need to send a text to 888222 and correctly guess the secret password for one of six Chipotle Rewards accounts that are pre-loaded with 52 free guacamole rewards. The challenge will have six guessing periods between 8 a.m. PT today and midnight tomorrow. Chipotle will provide clues to the secret passwords on its Instagram, TikTok and Twitter accounts.
- Chipotle also is offering all 15 million members of its loyalty program free guacamole with any entrée on National Avocado Day. The company will automatically put the offer in their Chipotle Rewards wallet on July 31. Non-members need to join the loyalty program by July 30 to receive the offer, according to the announcement.
Chipotle's "Unlock the Guac" challenge is notable for using text messaging to interact with smartphone users, showing that short message service (SMS) technology still has marketing applications almost 30 years after its introduction. Because Chipotle is asking people to submit their guesses of secret passwords to its six Chipotle Rewards accounts, texting can help to track entries and quickly determine when it receives the first correct answer. Chipotle also can urge participation among a wide audience of mobile users who have SMS texting as a basic service in most cellular plans.
Chipotle last year made its 888222 number a central part of a campaign timed with the close of the professional basketball season in the U.S. It offered free entrées to mobile users who texted unique codes shared on Twitter every time a TV announcer said the word "free" during NBA games. The campaign allowed the chain to target basketball fans when they're most excited and attentive without having to pay for an official sponsorship or on-air placements.
National Avocado Day has become a key part of Chipotle's seasonal marketing efforts. Last year, the company ran a #GuacDance challenge on social video app TikTok that urged people to show off their dance moves dedicated to avocados. The challenge was based on a popular social media video featuring the "Guacamole Song." At the time, the campaign was TikTok's highest-performing branded challenge in the U.S., and resulted in the biggest guacamole day ever for Chipotle. The company served more than 800,000 sides of the condiment as avocado usage surged 68% to 18,500 cases of the fruit.
That total may be hard to top this year with the coronavirus pandemic weighing on results for many restaurant chains. Chipotle last week reported that revenue slipped 4.8% to $1.4 billion in Q2 from a year earlier, while comparable-restaurant sales dropped 9.8%. Its 216% surge in digital sales wasn't enough to lift top-line growth, which was partly constrained by continued lockdowns on about 30 of its restaurants, mainly in malls and shopping centers, according to a quarterly report.