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Chipotle adds spice to text-to-win sweepstakes for Tough Mudder challenge

In a reflection of how cross-marketing can add new life to SMS promotions, fast food restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is offering fitness enthusiasts the chance to win round-trip airfare and first-class accommodations for the Tough Mudder challenge in Australia, as well as a year’s worth of free burritos, via a text-to-win campaign.

The sweepstakes will send one grand prize winner and their guest to any Tough Mudder event in Australia, with two runners up set to receive a year’s worth of free burritos from the restaurant chain. Although SMS-based promotions are less frequent nowadays, Chipotle will likely see success with this campaign due to the differing prizes it is offering.

“For some, free food from Chipotle for a year would be the grand prize,” said Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize, Seattle, WA. “For others, a unique trip is more enticing than burritos with extra guacamole.

“The contest is big enough and different enough to get noticed.”

Leveraging sponsorships
It is a smart move for Chipotle to leverage its newfound national sponsorship of Tough Mudder events, which are a series of mud-run obstacle races, as a cross-marketing opportunity. As part of its partnership duties, the fast food chain will maintain a presence at Tough Mudder races in the United States by selling tacos to challengers and their spectators in the “Mudder Village” area.

Chipotle will also be sponsoring the “Human Hamster Wheel,” a challenge testing how long a participant can stand on a circular set of monkey bars. Special prizes will be available.

The SMS-based promotion will run from April 6 through April 26, with the winner announced at a later date. Interested consumers can visit their local Chipotle location for more information, or text “MUDDER1” to 888222.

After consumers text the phrase, they will receive an automatic message from Chipotle informing them of their entry into the sweepstakes. They are then asked to text “BOWL” for more offers and updates via mobile.

A designated Web site,, has also been set up.

Chipotle decided to partner with Tough Mudder since both brands have an appreciation for active lifestyles, and for consumers fueling up with great ingredients and food.

The sweepstakes winner will receive first class accommodations and airfare for two, free entry into any Australian Tough Mudder challenge and a cash prize of $2,500. Two runners-up will enjoy a year of free burritos.

Mobile-first mindset
Chipotle is employing a mobile-first mindset as it continues to roll out contests and sweepstakes.

This past October, Chipotle leveraged social media to engage costumed Halloween customers in a contest while raising up to $1 million for its Chipotle Cultivate Foundation (see story).

Chipotle also streamlined its job application process by enabling candidates to apply via a Web-based mobile application program for smartphones and tablets (see story).

These strategies demonstrate the brand’s continued commitment to using mobile as a primary means of communication with consumers, and the wide reach its latest SMS campaign will have.

“Chipotle will surely build its opt-in database and generate more trips to their restaurants,” Mr. Hasen said. “Given the lines that we see in many Chipotle locations, the chain will see much of its text-to-win participation from those who spend a good part of their lunch hour waiting and using their phones.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York