May 21, 2014
Chipotle Mexican Grill forgets to include Mexican writers in their “Cultivating Thought” campaign
by Julia Fleischaker
One week in, Chipotle‘s new “Cultivating Thought” campaign has encountered its first opposition. Jonathan Safran Foer, who came up with and curated the series, got 10 “thought-leaders, authors, and comedians” to contribute “words and whimsy,” which now adorn Chipotle’s cups. Smart! Chosen writers include authors George Saunders and Toni Morrison, and comedians Bill Hader and Sarah Silverman. But Chipotle Mexican Grill seems to have left one thing out…Chipotle Mexican Grill neglected to include any Mexican, Mexican-American, or Latino writers in the roster.
Writing in the OC Weekly, Gustavo Arellano quotes English professor Lisa Alvarez.
I see this as an unfortunate pattern, an inability to recognize the contributions of Mexican Americans as public intellectuals equal to the ones chosen for this series. We can inspire the food, create the food, plant the food, pick the food, serve the food, clear the food, clean up after it’s all over…but that’s about it. When I saw the story today, I went to read it with hope, with an expectation built on what Chipotle advertises itself as–thoughtful, mildly progressive–and also, I should say with the clear knowledge of what this kind of program is and is not (there are much greater injustices and omissions in the world today)–but I did imagine I’d find at least one Mexican American. Just one.
Alvarez and her friend Alex Espinoza, also an English professor as well as the author of Still Water Saints, have started a Facebook page to address the ommission. “Cultivating Invisibility: Chipotle’s Missing Mexicans,” on which fans are posting pictures of their own stories written on cups, has over 500 likes. Similarly, author Michelle Serros started a campaign at Mexican restaurant Flaco’s in Berkeley, passing out cups, and pens to write on them. The Cultivating Invisibility page also has a post, with Michelle Serros posing a question to the Chipotle team.
Why did you not include any Mexican or Mexican American writers for your “Cultivating Thought” series? After all, your establishment is a Mexican Grill.
Our community is awaiting a response. We are receiving conflicting answers from the service consultants on your Facebook page.
Reply from Chipotle Customer Service:
Thank you for reaching out to us. Cultivating Thought is a creative way to stimulate our customers’ minds while eating a tasty burrito. We did not think of including individuals from specific ethnic backgrounds. We simply wanted individuals to Cultivate Thought. As of right now, we do not only have writers, but comedians such as Sarah Silverman. As this movement gains popularity, we hope to have Cultivating Thought open to anybody who would like to be a part of it. We hope to have more individuals join as we move forward with this, as it is fairly new. I will also take note of your concerns for future plans. I hope this helps!
Customer Service Consultant
It wouldn’t be hard to find a writer to right the wrong. Arellano names just a few: Junot Diaz, Sandra Cisneros, Luis Alberta Urrea, Dagoberto Gilb. Hopefully, someone at Chipotle can stimulate their mind enough to find a Latino author to include. Maybe some delicious Mexican food would help get their creative juices flowing.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.