Chipotle Crisis Communication

Chipotle is the world’s leading fast-food chain American multinational company and it has established a network of over 3437 chain stores in various countries across the globe. The fast-food chain brand has experienced the outbreak of E.coli virus that infected approximately 55 people and hospitalized 21 people. Today, we’ll discuss Chipotle crisis communication; crisis events, crisis communication, and Chipotle crisis management strategies; and lessons learned from the crisis.

Crisis Event to Chipotle

The incident of the E.coli virus outbreak occurred in 2015 and it was found in the food items of Chipotle. Quickly, it spread to 14 states across the US. Health officials in Oregon and Washington states found and detected the E.coli virus in various states that infected approximately 55 people. However, they interviewed sick and infected people; they all had eaten Mexican grills in various chain restaurants of Chipotle across the US.

2nd Outbreak Incident

The second incident of E.coli nonvirus outbreak occurred on December 22, 2015, and it infected approximately 155 college students in Boston. Investigation showed that they all had eaten from the chain restaurants of the Chipotle.

3rd Outbreak of E.coli virus

The 3rd incident of E.coli virus outbreak happened on February 01, 2016.

Overall Impact of the Outbreak

  • 4 children lost their lives
  • Infected approximately 600 people and they became sick
  • The stock per share price decreased from 13.88$ to 9.5$

Chipotle Crisis Communication Strategies

Let’s discuss the Chipotle crisis communication strategy and Chipotle crisis management approach of the company as follows;

Closure of Chain Restaurants

When the news of the E.coli virus started spreading over social media, digital media, TV news channels, and local media; the retail food chain brand Chipotle immediately ordered the closure of its approximately 43 chain restaurants. The immediate and volunteer closure of the 43 chain restaurants showed the company’s strong commitment to food safety and public health.

Public Apology

The E.coli virus outbreak infected approximately 600 people in a series of incidents. After the confirmation of the virus found in the food of Chipotle; the retail chain brand issued a public apology and the company’s spokesperson apologized to the sick people and the general public and customers of the food chain restaurant brand. It shows that the company is owning up to its mistakes and is willing to learn from them.

Collaborating with Health Officials

Chipotle fully collaborated with the CDC and the health officials of the state during the investigation process. As soon as they launched and started testing the food items and supply chain of the company, the retail chain brand immediately ordered the closure of approximately 43 restaurants. The fast-food chain brand kept them closed until the completion of the investigation and resolution of the crisis.

Commitment to Food Safety

Chipotle has shown a strong commitment to food safety and public health. In order to keep up with the growing food safety concerns of the public and customers and comply with regulatory requirements, the food chain brand immediately started testing its cooked food items along with many other bakery products.

However, the food testing program significantly attracted the attention of people over social media and digital media channels and platforms. It showed and proved the company’s commitment to the food safety and health of customers.

Promotional Campaign

In order to rebuild the brand image of the company, Chipotle launched marketing and promotional campaigns on various media channels and platforms. The food chain brand informed the general public and the customers about the safety protocols they took, food testing programs, and compliance with food safety and regulatory requirements. However, the regular updates allowed the company to earn the trust and confidence of customers in order to rebuild the company’s brand image.

Media Engagement

Chipotle remains highly proactive on social media, digital media, and TV channels. The fast-food chain brand’s spokesperson defended the company’s brand image; answered the difficult media’s questions, and clarified the company’s position relevant to food safety and the health of the ordinary.

In one instance, Chipotle’s spokesperson blamed the media for creating a sensation about the crisis of the virus incident. He said that the company created hype out of an incident regardless of the fact that it was degrading the company’s brand image.

Lessons Learned from Chipotle Crisis Management Strategy

Some of the main lessons learned from Chipotle’s crisis management and crisis communication strategy are as follows;

  • Owning up the mistakes and taking responsibility for the company’s actions
  • Collaborating with health officials and other regulatory official
  • Implementing the open and transparent communication strategic approach
  • Apologizing to the public and the customer market and making the company accountable for its actions
  • Running proactive marketing campaigns on various media channels to inform the public to rebuild the company’s brand image

Conclusion: Crisis Communication Strategy of Chipotle Case Study | Chipotle Crisis Management

After an in-depth study of the Chipotle crisis communication; we have realized that Chipotle is the world’s leading retail fast-food chain brand. If you are learning about the Chipotle crisis management strategy; then you should keep in mind the abovementioned crisis event, impact, communication strategies, and lessons learned from the Chipotle case study of crisis management.

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