Despite Chipotle’s many, many public relations issues in recent months—including an E. coli outbreak, a lawsuit over alleged wage theft, and a top executive being indicted on drug charges—it’s possible that the company has finally reached a breaking point where it just wants to laugh its problems away.
On Tuesday, the burrito chain—a company known for routinely making some of the corniest dad jokes on the Internet—asked its Twitter followers to answer a simple question: “How many burritos?” Curiously, the only options available were 69 (as in, you know, sex stuff), and 420 (as in smoke weed and eat snacks with Snoop Dogg).
How many burritos?— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) September 6, 2016
While many fast-food chains boast colorful Twitter accounts these days—Whataburger has been trolling the masses for years now—Chipotle has been criticized in recent weeks for its repeated attempts to win customers back, launching video games, animated short-films, and a very, very expensive free food program.
“Chipotle just made a cringeworthy attempt to appeal to its youngest generation of customers with a tweet referencing sex and marijuana,” Business Insider wrote in its post on the Twitter poll. “It appeared to be an attempt by Chipotle to seem cool and win back young customers, but it was mostly mocked on Twitter.”
Mocked it was indeed. The company's mentions were flooded with droves of confused customers this week.
@ChipotleTweets you gotta chill— yung $adboy (@prettyalec) September 6, 2016
@ChipotleTweets chipotle has no chill— Mikayla (@mikaylarflynn) September 7, 2016
@ChipotleTweets this is pretty inappropriate. It's like someone's Dad trying to be cool— JoeyAlf (@joeyalf) September 6, 2016
I'm so happy you're rapidly losing customers @ChipotleTweets— Awful Brand Haver® (@ABHllc) September 6, 2016
@ChipotleTweets who let someone drunk tweet? Cute number choices 🤔— Ashley (@godessofvictry) September 6, 2016
As Eater notes, sex and drugs might not be the smartest references for the burrito chain to make these days. In addition to Mark Crumpacker, the company's chief marketing officer, being caught up in a major cocaine bust earlier this year, a woman named Ariana Castaneda sued Chipotle over sexual harassment claims, saying that she was inappropriately touched over the two years she worked at a Los Angeles location.
Still, Chipotle appears to be standing by the controversial Twitter poll, which currently boasts over 90,000 votes.
“[Chipotle] always looks to engage with customers on social in a way that is fun and without taking ourselves too seriously,” Chris Arnold, a spokesperson for the company, told Eater on Wednesday. “The nature of these tweets is not really a departure at all from what we’ve done for months, or even years."
First We Feast has reached out to Chipotle for comment, and will update this post if and when a statement is received.