Image from the Library of Congress. Click on the image to learn more.

Image from the Library of Congress. Click on the image to learn more.

Yes, you pay extra for guac, but a duo of rice and beans, a variety of seasoned meats, combined with a trio of salsas, some sour cream, and cheese does sound mightly delicious. When prepared by a friendly associate working for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (NYSE: CMG), the microcosm of ingredients is undoubtedly delicious and flavorful. I enjoy a bowl from Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc just as much as the following individual waiting in line behind me.

On June 14, 2021, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc announced the launch of its “Team Chipotle,” an athlete-focused menu featuring options such as The Julie Ertz Bowl, The Nneka Ogwumike Bowl, The Kate Courtney Bowl, and others. In the release, the company stated that “Chipotle is focused on helping athletes perform their best by providing proper nutrition through real food and real ingredients” [1]. With a tentative Olympics scheduled in Japan to take place in July, the national advertisements lined up with the Team Chipotle Menu should lay the groundwork for the American fast-casual chain to assume the mantle that another American fast-food chain, Mcdonald’s Corp (NYSE: MCD), once cherished. 

In 1996, Mcdonald’s aired many national commercials advertising the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, United States. Take the 30-second commercial involving a marathon amongst children, where viewers can see parents preparing their children for the conceptual 1st U.S. Mini-Marathon. Visualized is the continued excitement towards the marathon with an enthusiastic start to the race. After making it through a bridge, the troop of kids reach an intersection where they stop and see a Mcdonald’s. After glancing at the rows of supportive parents cheering them on, they steer left and head straight to the McDonalds location. 

Two things and a take-away stand out from the commercial. 1) What is the name of the intensive body stretching the kid is performing at the 10-second mark? And 2) I’m not sure how feasible it would be to complete a marathon after eating McDonald’s during the break. Marketed within the commercial was the convenience of the fast-food chain whose quick service would qualify it as a “break.” There were other commercials such as Ms. Foley stepping up to the counter and ordering a Big Mac Extra Value Meal, chance to be a spectator at the 1996 games or rule explanation amongst peers. The Least Common Denominator among all these commercials was the advertisement of their burgers and fries. More specifically, the size of the meal to be purchased to enter those contests. 

In June 2017, Mr. Eddie Pells of the Associated Press said that the International Olympic Committee“was ending its Olympic sponsorship deal with the fast-food giant three years before it was supposed to expire — severing a relationship that dated to 1976”[2]. Ms. Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post on February 9, 2018, pointed out that “McDonald’s Olympic partnership also had attracted a barrage of bad press from public health groups, who have accused the IOC of undermining its emphasis on health and athleticism by taking money from companies that sell junk food.” [3]. Now you might be wondering; I am not trying to articulate a hypothesis on whether the fast-food chain contributes to obesity in general; even though it is worth noting that back in May 2012, Ms. Lisa Baertlein for Reuters reported that “McDonald’s Corp investors soundly rejected a shareholder proposal that would have required the world’s biggest fast-food chain to assess its impact on childhood obesity” [4].

Let’s consider two arguments. First, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research Bulletin on Aging and Health from March 2009, Do Fast Food Restaurants Contribute to Obesity? Researchers found that in the U.S., “proximity to a fast food restaurant significantly increases the risk of obesity,” with a restaurant located 0.10 miles from the school increasing the probability of obesity by 5.2% compared to no significant effect when it is 0.25 or 0.50 miles away from the school [5]. Second, research titled, Young children are the main victims of fast food-induced obesity in Brazil, published in 2019, found a “very strong positive correlation between overweight rates and the number of McDonald restaurants for both males and females between 5 and 9 years old” [6]. 

A whole bunch of attention is paid these days to calories. So let’s spend some attention on calories between a Mcdonald’s meal and a Chipotle meal. The meal I chose from McDonald’s was the Big Mac with Fries and Drink, whereas, from Chipotle, it was a Steak Bowl with White Rice, Beans, Mild Salsa, the fix-ins and guacamole. So when you compare McDonald’s Nutrition Calculator and Chipotle Nutrition Calculator, the McDonald’s meal would have 95.34% as many calories as the Chipotle meal (920 vs. 965). You get approximately 1.54 times the protein with 53.85% fewer carbohydrates in the Chipotle meal than the McDonald meal.  Chipotle as a meal option performs better in delivering value and nourishment when compared to McDonald’s.  

On a global scale, Chipotle enjoys a much smaller footprint compared to McDonald’s. For example, all of Chipotle’s 11 international locations are in Europe, London specifically. In contrast, McDonald’s operates in Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, the Fiji Islands, and Azerbaijan, to name a few. A delicacy involving rice, beans, and meat exists in almost every culture. To contemplate Chipotle’s assimilation can be tricky since their offering isn’t as uniquely American as burgers and fries. 

The current members of the Olympic Partner Programme include Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coco-Cola, Dow, GE, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, Proctor and Gamble, Samsung, Toyota, and Visa. On July 5, “Chipotle will air its first-ever national TV commercial,” featuring U.S. Women’s National Team Player Julie Ertz [7]. The lineup of videos in their Unwrapped series, featuring athletes like Jagger Eaton, Chase Young, and Christian Pulisic, is similar to the Gatorade commercials featuring athletes and their training routines. Ignoring the similarity with the upcoming Olympics and the Women’s Soccer team, one of the crown jewels of the American Olympic squad, I think there is a place for Chipotle to expand its reach using the Olympic brand. Understanding that it is not cheap to become an Olympic partner as explained by Ms. Virginia Harrison for CNN Business in Olympic sponsorship: Is it worth it?. Healthier and productive synergies can be identified between Chipotle and an athlete compared to the burgers and fries universe of McDonald’s.