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Chipotle has been a platform power-user for more than two years – and it shows. The QSR brand offers its 1.5 million followers a range of content, including branded TikTok Challenges – trending content that encourages creators put their unique spin on a creative prompt – to boost both the quantity and quality of consumer engagement across the platform.

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Chipotle TikTok Tactics

In March 2021, Chipotle partnered with e.l.f. Cosmetics to create a limited-edition makeup line inspired by Chipotle’s burrito bowl. To promote the line, the brands partnered with influencers Trixie Mattel and KimChi Chic from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

e.l.f. x Chipotle was heavily targeted to Gen Z TikTok users, who are more likely to follow celebrity content and fashion accounts; and the niche nature of the video was alienating to the general population, given the continuous drop in enjoyment.

Over the edge?

On TikTok, Chipotle is known for encouraging content that encourages creators to put their unique spin on a creative, brand prompt.

e.l.f. x Chipotle makeup palettes sold out in days, but research from The Harris Poll indicates that this campaign subverted users’ expectations of the brand. In fact, the post was negatively correlated with TikTokusers’ perception of Chipotle at -0.02.

Both the video and the brand are recognized for being fun, but while the video takes on an edgy vibe, it contrasts with the dependable and customer-friendly reputation Chipotle has among TikTok users.

Maybe not

e.l.f. Cosmetics gives Chipotle a chance to push its brand boundaries with the backing of a brand that is more authoritative in that content space.

Although the video is not positively aligned with Chipotle, TikTok users recognize the stronger brand relationship between Chipotle and e.l.f. Cosmetics. The two brands have a moderately strong correlation of 0.55.

This gives Chipotle room to experiment with content that promotes the collaboration by tapping into characteristics more aligned with e.l.f. In fact, the post was positively correlated with e.l.f. at 0.24, indicating that the post hit a middle ground between the two brands.

TikTok users see Chipotle as a customer- and value-oriented brand with a post that delivered more style than substance. Even so, the connection to e.l.f. created an entertaining video for users and promoted palette sales, proving brands can succeed with TikTok users by tapping into partnerships and experimental content that introduce modern and youthful brand associations to drive enjoyment and engagement

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Lucas Strombeck

Author Lucas Strombeck

Lucas Strombeck manages public relations for The Harris Poll and its brand tracking software, Harris Poll Brand Platform. Drawing on his extensive background in data-driven storytelling, he works closely with Harris Poll researchers and media partners to connect the dots between consumer insights, market trends and headline news. Before joining The Harris Poll, Lucas was a senior manager at Walker Sands, where he led PR strategy for fast-growing B2B tech startups and SaaS companies -- primarily in the martech and ad tech space. He is a graduate of Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

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