Chipotle, the Starbucks of burritos, has noticed something about corporate twitter accounts: almost no one cares about them unless they get hacked. So, Chipotle decided to take advantage of this fact and hack themselves. For about an hour on July 21st, the Chipotle twitter account spewed randomness that looked less like a malicious hacker, and more like someone with little internet comfort using twitter for the first time:
The “hacked” tweets run the range from twitter confusion: “Do I have a tweet?” to misplaced to-do list: “Hi sweetie, can you pick up some lime, salt and onions? twitter” to the random (if burrito-related): #@chipotletweets What is cilantro? How do you pronounce it?"
The hoax got some publicity while people still thought they had actually been hacked, with headlines springing up such as: “Chipotle Just Grateful That No One Sent Nude Pics During Odd Twitter Episode” and “Chipotle’s twitter account suffered a brief existential crisis.”
However, once the hoax had been revealed, Chipotle’s twitter episode got much more coverage. Mashable spoke to Chipotle representative Chris Arnold, who said explained the strange marketing campaign:
"We thought that people would pay attention, that it would cut through people's attention and make them talk, and it did that....It was definitely thought out: We didn't want it to be harmful or hateful or controversial."
Chipotle’s fake hack definitely wasn’t hateful or harmful. Cynical? Maybe. But marketing tends to be cynical: companies will do what they think gets our attention. Chipotle’s move feels a little icky, because now we can’t trust twitter hacks to be real twitter hacks, but those weren’t so sacred to begin with.