It has been revealed that Mexican-themed fast food place Chipotle faked a recent Twitter hacking incident of their official profile. The incident certainly generated some buzz, but is faking an online attack really a good idea for your business’s PR campaign?
It all happened last Sunday when the company’s main Twitter account @ChipotleTweets spewed an hour’s worth of erratic and nonsensical tweets and the profile earned more than 4,000 new followers as a result, but the company has since come out and admitted the Twitter hack was staged.
The planned publicity stunt was part of the promotional campaign for the chain’s 20th anniversary.
Speaking to Mashable, Chipotle rep Chris Arnold said "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."
The idea behind the seemingly random attack was designed to tie into a 20 day long treasure hunt, entitled ‘Adventurito’ in which every day brings a new puzzle for Chipotle fans to solve. Most of the tweets mentioned various ingredients and this was intended to tie into that day’s puzzle about ingredients.
Arnold continued, "We thought that it really fit well within the context of our 20th anniversary promotion where we were putting clues in all sorts of things," Arnold said. "We had clues pop up in a lot of places and thought that incorporating something into our social media presence would fit well into that promotion."
On a typical day, Chipotle will snag around 250 new followers, which means the 4K that came on board after the stunt was a considerable jump. The madcap tweets haven’t been deleted and they’re still being retweeted wholesale. Chipotle hack tweets have been retweeted around 12,000 times. Their usual tweets earn around 75 retweets.
The stats suggest that the stunt was a good idea, but the brand has drawn criticism from Twitter users as a result. Arnold, however, maintains that the reaction had been ‘overwhelmingly positive’.
What do you think? Is a fake Twitter hacking incident PR gold? Or will food companies like Chipotle end up with egg on their faces?