Tracey Mendrek, Executive Vice President

It recently came to light in the media that Chipotle’s Twitter account had been hacked.  Horror of all horrors, it happened again.  First Burger King then Jeep.  What is the Internet coming to when respectable brands lose control of their Twitter feeds?

Fast-forward a few days and the truth comes out.  Chipotle, following in the footsteps of other crafty marketers, staged the hacking as part of a promotional campaign celebrating their 20th anniversary.  Mashable first reported the confession.  https:///

While the marketing department at Chipotle probably chalked this up as a big win (it did attract 4,000 new followers) the public relations department might not be quite as pleased.  It does take on an element of the little boy who cried wolf.   What to do when a marketing stunt runs counter to the code of conduct on their own investor relations page:

“Chipotle is committed to the highest standards of integrity in all of our activities and compliance with both the letter and spirit of the law. We expect that you will reflect these standards in your day-to-day dealings on our behalf.”

Read the entire code here: https:///

Chipotle is a public company traded on the NYSE as CMG.  Their stock has been trading higher since last November and there appears to be no marked downturn since this incident came to light. Investors can be a finicky bunch and while this may not have hurt the company in the short term, the company must be mindful of whether this publicity stunt has long-term effects.

People outside our industry often lump marketing and public relations into the same bucket.  Often the two strategies work hand in hand, but this is a prime example of the differences in the two disciplines.  Marketing promotes the brand, but public relations must be able to defend it.  By all accounts this seems like a win for Chipotle, but it may cause the public relations team to work a little harder the next time someone questions a financial report, a hiring practice or a messaging campaign. As the fairytale teaches us, don’t expect everyone to come running when the wolf is finally sitting at the door.