How to create a brand on a budget – what we can learn from a mass burrito giveaway

Sure, we like free stuff. But from a business point of view, where’s the tangible benefit in mass giveaways? A little lesson in how marketing is changing, from the people who know best: people who love burritos.

Today,  glorious burrito-peddlers Chilangos gave away their delicious Mexican fare for the very generous price of nothing at all, to celebrate the opening of their new restaurant on Leather Lane, Farringdon. The result? Madness.


Despite the pouring rain, the wet, the fact that a precious lunch-hour was ticking away, hundreds of people were more than willing to wait for their chance to save £5 on a burrito. So what exactly can we take from this?


First off, well done Chilangos, for cutting right to the point. For the price of a day’s worth of food, they have managed to get unbelievable buy-in for their brand for hundreds, possibly even thousands of people. They kept their marketing clean, clear and as simple as possible:




Their branding message didn’t do what we’ve come to expect from modern branding – that is, attribute an INTANGIBLE value to something tangible (ie, associating your brand or company with a feeling, an ethos, an emotion), because the value is implicit. It’s free stuff, dudes. There is no value for the company, it’s all value for the consumer. And actually, in an increasingly brand-heavy world (Costa? Starbucks? Nero? Eat? Oh how DO we decide), a clear and simple benefit for the customer is pretty bloomin’ rare.


So, you’ve got a focus entirely on a clear message that is 100% beneficial for your consumer. Well done you. And there’s a knock-on effect of that too – social media buy-in. People use Twitter to disseminate useful information – and though it’s quite rare that companies can force a lot of people to advertise their company off their own backs, they are sure as hell happy to tweet about free stuff.



  People share the information, seeing that the value is 100% for those consuming it, and, before you know it, you’ve got a crowd on your hands. Of course, all that does is underline your power on social media, as people rush to describe something out of the ordinary happening on the streets they tread every day – causing a spectacle. Tick.




So, with minimal (possibly even non-existent) marketing spend, Chilango has managed to achieve the following things


1. Mass consumer trialing of their service

2. Creation of a genuine spectacle (‘buzz’ if you want to be gross about it) about their product, both online and off, raising the profile of the company in both a local and national way

3. Proof of costumer buy-in, and dissemination of that proof across several different sites and social media channels.


Not bad for a day’s work. So is giving away your product, even for a minimal time, ultimately worth it? We’ll have to give the Mexican Masters a few more months before those conclusions can be drawn, but one thing is for sure:

your branding can be as clever, as emotionally manipulative, as witty and as carefully constructed as you like. But if you can guarantee real value for your customer from the off, and demonstrate that value clearly and without pretention, that might be all the ‘brand’ you need.



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Natasha Hodgson is the Content and Community Manager over at Enternships. She loves writing about inspiring things, and Nicolas Cage. Luckily, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

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