very cool initiative from chipotle i wanted to share. the fast food mega-chain is partnering was writers and illustrators to do more with their packaging through a new series called “cultivating thought.” authors provide mini essays and illustrators provide accompanying illustrations. and voila! your burrito stimulates your belly and your mind.


the idea actually came from jonathan safran foer, the new york times best-selling author  of extremely loud and incredibly close and everything is illuminated. apparently, he was eating chipotle one day, found himself with nothing to read and had an aha moment. he approached chipotle with his idea to expose customers to creative people and kudos to chipotle for taking an idea from an outsider and running with it.

the contributers are pretty amazing: toni morrison wrote a piece called “two-minute seduction." sarah silverman has a funny piece called “two-minute index.” steven pinker presents “a two-minute case for optimism.”

i love the idea of stretching your product to do more. i appreciate the creativity and thought behind it. i think the biggest win of this initiative is that it comes from a customer. it comes from putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and saying, when our customers are engaging with our product what are they missing? how can we enrich the process of engaging with our product?

i do think that not featuring mexican or hispanic authors right off the bat was a missed opportunity. not just because there are so many great hispanic authors, but because it’s an opportunity to connect the campaign back to the brand - which is what branded content is all about. but chipotle got that feedback after it launched this initiative and (again) kudos to them for correcting the mistake quickly!

all in all, a great example of smart, thoughtful branded content.