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B2B? B2C? Be More B4H

What if a burrito could change the world? It’s the question at the heart of Chipotle’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial.

While the Super Bowl may be new territory for Chipotle, the idea of making a difference certainly isn’t. From highlighting suppliers’ sustainable farming practices to including a Real Foodprint in its mobile app, the fast casual giant has made clear in recent years that it strives to be more than a restaurant chain. Its debut Super Bowl spot highlights soil and water conservation, reduced carbon emissions, and farmers’ working conditions among the ways Chipotle’s business practices impact the world.

It’s a brand for humanity.

Brand for humanity—what does it mean?

A brand for humanity integrates values into its mission that extend beyond profit and serve a greater purpose. It’s a step beyond corporate social responsibility as a complementary piece to a business’ overall mission.

That means that for a brand like Chipotle, ethics and values are more than a “side dish”; they’re “cooked” into the “main course.” With that approach, Chipotle joins original brands for humanity like Toms Shoes and Bombas, which popularized the model of donating product for every purchase made. While Toms and Bombas were built as brands for humanity, seeing the concept on display during the Super Bowl drives home that it’s not just for niche brands anymore.

In fact, research shared in a previous edition of Brief Inspirations, shows that nearly three-quarters of US consumers believe brands should take a stand on issues that are important to them.

No matter the size of resources at a brand’s disposal, there’s a way to be a brand for humanity in nearly any business. It’s just a matter of finding where the opportunity lies—and the commitment to act on it.

Be authentic.

It’s vital that the cause you embrace be authentic to your brand. Consumers can smell a marketing-play-disguised-as-social-good a mile away. (They’ve seen more than enough of it.) For Chipotle, it makes sense to emphasize ethically sourced ingredients.

Source relevant social currency.

For Austin Williams, the summer’s crescendo in the social justice movement—and the spotlight it shined on the advertising industry’s lack of diversity—was a wake-up call that got us thinking (and talking and planning) about how we could address these employment inequities. That led to our launching a marketing scholarship program for students of color in partnership with clients Molloy College and St. Joseph’s College, among other initiatives.

Be consistent.

Your brand’s contribution should have staying power—both in the issue you identify and in your support of it. Your cause should be built into your brand mission and be reflected in your brand values so that it is an essential and well-integrated part of your brand strategy. While Chipotle’s Super Bowl presence is new, their ethical-minded focus has been unwavering.

Encourage dialogue.

While making a statement about your brand’s connection to humanity, taking on a cause as part of your identity is an important way for brands to forge stronger relationships with and loyalty from their constituents. Inviting your audience to engage with you about your initiatives can result in exponential gains.

Get ideas from the inside.

Sometimes, figuring out how to address an issue you’ve identified is easy: For Chipotle, it’s a matter of using ingredients and suppliers that reflect the brand’s values. Other times, it’s not quite as simple.

If you find yourself in that situation, engage colleagues and employees. After all, while leadership can point the way to becoming a brand for humanity, making it happen means making it part of the company’s culture, and there’s only so much that can come down from the top.

Do what you can.

It will undoubtedly take some thought and planning to determine how your company can best be a brand for humanity, but in the end, that kind of planning and problem-solving is a big part of what leadership is all about.

Need help exploring how your company can be a brand for humanity? Contact us.


Austin Williams is an award-winning, full-service Long Island advertising agency that dares to be outcomes driven. Our in-house services include research, brand identity, campaign development, media planning and buying, website development, digital marketing, content creation and public relations. We are a financial advertising agency, healthcare marketing agency, higher education marketing agency, and professional services marketing agency.

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