On September 11, 2013, Chipotle, the socially conscious fast food chain, posted an advertisement for their new iOS game, the Scarecrow, to their YouTube account. Chipotle tends to shy away from traditional television advertisements, instead preferring to reach their audience through social media. Within 48 hours of posting the video, it already has nearly 400,000 YouTube views and has captured the attention of the media.

The ad takes a poignant look at the fast-food industry and where it purchases ingredients. Chipotle hopes their game and advertisement will rally us to “join the quest for wholesome, sustainable food.” Chipotle will offer buy-one-get-one free coupons to the first 1 million customers who successfully complete the game. In another unconventional approach, the ad contains almost no overt Chipotle branding.

This video reminds us of the power of social media in modern marketing and public relations. We’re learning that traditional TV ads aren’t always necessary to reach a large audience. Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow,” is certainly not the first ad we’ve seen “go viral.” Last year, Invisible Children’s #KONY2012 YouTube campaign was perhaps the most recognizable and successful example. In the past 18 months, the official KONY2012 video has earned nearly 100 million views and introduced the world to the organization’s message.

Gavin understands the power of YouTube and taking the message from the TV screen to the computer screen. Our #MINIENVY campaign with MINI of Baltimore demonstrates how any organization can incorporate video and social media into their marketing campaign.

For the #MINIENVY campaign, Gavin and MINI of Baltimore are surprising contest winners at their school, work or home with a VIP MINI Cooper test drive. To build on the feeling of #MINIenvy, we post the test drive videos on YouTube and share on social media to encourage engagement and allow the winners to spread the message to their network.

Chipotle is doing it right by focusing on grabbing attention, then using Internet buzz and cable news chatter as its primary forms of distribution. Social media is the perfect channel to attract Chipotle’s target audience of millenials.  It’s a high impact approach that has a strong ripple effect that will really pay off. We say keep this approach in mind the next time video advertising makes its way around the brainstorming table.