No, it's not some kind of masochistic thing.
It's a clever social media- and Web advertising-driven campaign designed to generate donations for a nonprofit encouraging healthier, locally sourced school meals, while simultaneously reinforcing Chipotle Mexican Grill's message that fast food needn't be "junk" food.
The QSR's "No Junk" campaign, launching June 25, is asking people to forward their own junk emails to the chain (at email@example.com).
For every 100,000 junk emails received (up to a 500,000 maximum), Chipotle will donate $10,000 to The Lunch Box, a new initiative from the F3: Food Family Farming Foundation that will offer 100,000 schools nationwide (32 million children) recipes and other tools for implementing healthy, whole foods-based, economical meal programs. The recipes are from F3 founder/"Renegade Lunch Lady" Ann Cooper, a chef and book author who, according to her bio, has made it her life's mission to advocate for better food for all children.
The "No Junk" campaign -- which will run through August (or until the maximum donation level is reached) -- ties in with Chipotle's "Food with Integrity" brand promise, based on its commitment to using premium-quality ingredients from sources that are more sustainable than any other national restaurant company, according to the chain.
For example, the 1,000-unit, nationwide chain uses meat from animals that are raised naturally (vegetarian diets with no hormones or antibiotics) and humanely, and dairy products from cows not treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH. Chipotle also continues to increase the amounts of locally/organically grown produce used in its restaurants.
The inspiration for the campaign was to convey Chipotle's desire to "help people to get junk out of their lives," Chris Arnold, the chain's public relations director, tells Marketing Daily. "Junk email is certainly one good example and, while we can't eliminate it from people's lives, we can at least help them put this negative to productive use."
To drive participation, Chipotle will run banner ads on targeted sites, as well as leverage Facebook.
The chain has created a "No Junk" tab on its Facebook page, which currently has about 750,000 fans. In addition to posting about the cause-related campaign, Chipotle is offering fans a "How Happy Are You?" game in which players' happiness levels go up when they "catch" a healthy Chipotle menu item or ingredient with a virtual fork, and go down when the item caught is "mass-produced junk food." Links encourage players to share the game with other social media users.
The brand will also get the word out via its Twitter presence, although that's not as robust as its Facebook fan base, says Arnold. Chipotle's Web site, due to being mid-redesign, won't promote the campaign, he says.
People who forward junk emails can rest assured that the content won't be read by Chipotle, and that the chain won't add their email addresses to its promotional database unless they opt in via a reply email triggered by their forwarding of junk email. The reply email will also point interested participants to Chipotle's site to learn more about its "Food with Integrity" promise/practices, and to TheLunchBox.org.
F3's stated mission is to help change the food system in the U.S. to an ecologically sound, sustainable model. The organization educates through training programs, direct services, a Web portal and collateral channels. In addition to Cooper, its founders include Chez Panisse Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Orfalea Foundations, the Colorado Health Foundation, the Compton Foundation and Whole Foods Market Inc.