Chipotle’s Offensive Twitter Hack

Chipotle Mexican Grill had a lot of cleaning up to do after the brand’s Twitter account was hacked for two hours on Sunday morning. Hackers changed the account’s avatar to a picture of a swastika, edited the bio information, and sent out multiple tweets using offensive language to attack President Obama and the government systems.

Source: Coloradan Magazine

According to Mashable, Chipotle Communications Director, Chris Arnold, immediately responded to the hacking by making a public statement:

“Our Twitter account was hijacked overnight for about two hours during which a series of offensive tweets was posted to the account. We apologize for the nature of the posts that were made during that time, and we are now conducting an investigation to try to determine what happened and who might have been involved.” 

During PR issues such as these where customers and audience members are offended, it is important for the brand to come forward with a spokesperson and a statement. Sitting back in silence can often lead to assumptions that your brand or organization is backing up whatever drama has occured. Not only did Chris Arnold speak on behalf of Chipotle, but the brand also tweeted a public apology and deleted all remains of the inappropriate hack.

Chipotle is commonly associated with positive marketing. Its current “Cultivating Thought” campaign involves printed literature on the restaurant’s cups and paper bags as an activity for customers while dining. The works of well-known authors, such as Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, and Michael Lewis, and even a few faces from the entertainment realm, like Bill Hader, Sarah Silverman, and Judd Apatow, are used within the series. Additionally, the brand had a successful Twitter contest the week prior to the hack; followers posted haikus about Chipotle on Twitter and shared via Facebook to be entered to win a free entree for two.

Source: Vanity Fair

In July of 2013, Chipotle actually “faked” its own Twitter hacking as a publicity stunt for their 20th anniversary, and wound up with over 4,000 new followers the next day. Let’s see how much @ChipotleTweets’ followership increases after a real hack.

Hopefully the Communications staff was able to treat themselves to a hearty burrito after what must have been one stressful social media Sunday.

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