Chipotle’s caliente chance

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Even before its free burrito giveaway last week, Chipotle had loyal fans at Marquette. Now those fans have been given the chance to turn their admiration for the popular Mexican grill into an advertising opportunity.

Chipotle has invited more than 20 advertising, marketing and media departments from colleges and universities across the country to take part in a contest in which students create their own 30-second commercial.

One or two teams from each school, with no limits on the number of team members, are allowed to submit. Chipotle marketing staff and advertising experts will judge commercials based on creativity, representation of the brand and production quality, according to a press release for the promotion.

The grand prize is $20,000 to be split in half, with $10,000 for team members and the rest going toward the school. The runner-up will receive $10,000 to be split up as well.

James Pokrywczynski, chair of Marquette's advertising and public relations department, said he received the announcement and passed word of the contest along to Linda Menck, professional in residence in the department. Menck then incorporated the contest into a project for her ADPR 140 class.

But why choose college students, as opposed to an advertising agency?

"College students are really driving trends and defining tastes," said Chris Arnold, public relations director for Chipotle. "We think we'll get really interesting — maybe breakthrough — creative ideas from the students."

Chipotle has established a unique and innovative advertising style that has earned the company recognition in its field, Arnold said. For example, the company has advertised on shirts and billboards with its distinctive huge, foil-wrapped burrito.

"This is an opportunity for students to showcase their talent in a way that's pretty much unrestricted," Arnold said. "Not many companies provide that kind of creative flexibility."

The company provides many aspects of Chipotle to highlight in the commercial, including the restaurant's "Food with Integrity" attitude, which guides its use of fresh food and respect for the animals, land and farmers who produce the ingredients.

In addition to the chance to win cash, students also have the opportunity to do resume building.

"Advertising and PR are 'show me' businesses," Arnold said. "This contest gives students a chance to produce something for their portfolios that they can use when they start looking for jobs."

Pokrywczynski said he supported the contest.

"They not only learn how to make commercials, but how to work within a budget, deadline, with a client they have to sell their idea to," he said. "It's win-win for all parties involved."

Students are already creating their own ideas for the ad campaign.

Colin Bridgham, a senior in the College of Communication, is participating in the contest. His group has produced three commercials, with ADPR students creating the ideas and broadcasting students tweaking them.

Two of the commercial concepts deal with college kids hanging out with a giant burrito mascot, complete with big white Mickey Mouse hands. The burrito and kids pull pranks on each other: one scene consists of the burrito taking a shower and the college kids sneaking in and stealing his aluminum foil.

"The ideas are pretty random. They wouldn't win if they're not funny," Bridgham said.

Cara Corradino, College of Communication freshman, said she would emphasize the fresh food and cleanliness of Chipotle.

"It's like fast food but without the fast food feel," she said.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, and winners will be announced on Nov. 3. The winning commercials will be posted on Chipotle's Web site, www.chipotle.com, but the restaurant has not decided what to do with all the submissions it will collect, according to a press release for the promotion.

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