The Chipotle/e.l.f. collab has made guac eye shadow a thing

Photo: Business Wire; e.l.f.; Chipotle
Mar 11, 2021

e.l.f. Cosmetics and Chipotle have collaborated on a limited-edition makeup collection inspired by ingredients used by the Mexican fast-food chain.

The collection features an eye shadow palette with 12 shades reflective of ingredients like rice, beans and salsa. Each palette purchase comes with a coupon for a free order of Chipotle’s chips and guacamole.

The range also includes a salsa-red lip gloss with a “mild-yet-alluring tingling sensation” when applied, an avocado-shaped makeup sponge and a tortilla chip-styled makeup bag. A vegan “Eyes, Chips, Face” bowl will be available at Chipotle curated by celebrity drag queens Trixie Mattel and Kim Chi of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.”

The collaboration is being promoted across social platforms, including in an Instagram special starring the drag queens, a remixed TikTok song and a Clubhouse chat.

Launched March 10, the tortilla chip bag has sold out and the lip gloss and sponge were quickly out of stock. The brands first worked on a collaboration in May 2020 that sold out in four minutes with more limited quantities.

The Chipotle/e.l.f. collab has made guac eye shadow a thing
Source: e.l.f./Chipotle

“We’re always looking for opportunities to lead culture and make authentic connections with Gen-Z alongside brands that share similar values,” Tressie Lieberman, Chipotle’s VP, digital marketing and off-premise, said in a statement.

Chipotle is committed to sustainability-friendly practices; e.l.f. Beauty to cruelty-free and vegan products. The collaboration particularly benefits from the growing popularity of product “drops” or limited-edition releases. Many beauty brands over the last few years have found success engaging in limited-edition collaborations with streetwear brands, musicians and social media stars. Coach and Sephora just teamed up on a make-up collaboration.

Fast food chains have more recently joined the action. Chipotle recently came out with limited-time bowls curated by musicians Miley Cyrus and Shawn Mendes. Taco Bell has partnered with Forever 21 on a limited-time apparel range. In February, a Crocs/KFC collaboration on a chicken-scented clog sold out in minutes.

Beauty and fast food collaborations are more rare. Glossy notes that such collaborations are common in China, however, including one last year with L’Oréal and KFC supporting a “milk tea” toner launch.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s driving the appeal of the limited-release collaboration between e.l.f. Cosmetics and Chipotle? Is drop culture a big opportunity for fast food chains?

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"We are in the early days of a co-marketing revolution, and I suspect the scope of the revolution will be very broad."

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14 Comments on "The Chipotle/e.l.f. collab has made guac eye shadow a thing"

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Gary Sankary

Drop culture — offering limited releases — is pretty common in the fast food world. It gives companies an opportunity for some press time and it’s a decent way to test a new product. McRib anyone?

I think for e.l.f., having a tie-in with a brand that aligns well with theirs is a good thing. They get some attention to their products and their company’s values. They can showcase their commitment to sustainability in a way that will resonate with their target customer. Win for everyone.

Dave Bruno

This e.l.f. and Chipotle strategy is not all that different than a store-within-a-store strategy. Just like putting Sephora shops in Kohl’s stores, Chipotle and e.l.f. have many customers in common, closely aligned brand promises, and zero competitive overlaps. We are in the early days of a co-marketing revolution, and I suspect the scope of the revolution will be very broad, as more and more verticals recognize the value of combining brand equity and marketing prowess to reach more shared target customers.

Chuck Ehredt

This is simply a brilliant collaboration, so congratulations to the team that came up with the idea. Brands need to be testing and learning all the time – and the most fertile area for such experiments is with complementary brands that can feed off each other to expand exposure among their audiences.

Even running out of stock generates buzz. The question is not whether more brands should do similar things, but how every brand needs to organize in order to constantly be experimenting. And, as mentioned, that is most easily done with complementary brands.

Di Di Chan

It’s about the story. Chipotle’s sustainability-friendly practices combined with e.l.f.’s commitment to cruelty-free beauty with vegan products to release a beautiful limited edition collection is flipping the script on traditional retail. Instead of using traditional marketing to push as many products as possible, this collaboration uses a set of limited products to promote both companies’ mission, values, and stories. Yes the eyeshadows are beautiful but more important is how it got here and why. The good vibes and fun of getting one of the fajita-colored eyeshadows becomes a story-sharing moment about sustainability and cruelty-free consumption practices.

Lisa Goller

Finally, a campaign that unites drag queens and guacamole!

This partnership spices up the fierce battle for Gen Z beauty and food consumers with marketing that’s fun, creative and distinct. Promoting this limited-time collection with a lively digital push can spark buzz, a fear of missing out and a shopping frenzy.

Restaurants need a lift. Drop culture, including rare offers and targeted promotions, can freshen up and differentiate food brands to fuel their growth.

Georganne Bender

I love everything about this campaign. It’s just a whole lot of fun, and we need that right about now!

Bindu Gupta

Way to think out of the box! I can see the power of a data driven + emotional marketing strategy here. Identifying overlapping target audiences + tying the promotion to the products in both brands that will appeal to that audience + overlaying the brand mission of sustainability + creating scarcity through limited releases = a successful collaboration in this case.

Christine Russo

The appeal of this partnership is grounded in its playful nature and its irony. Look, it’s been a slog of a year. Drag Queens promoting eye shadow is a playful way to have fun. Chipotle has a high pop culture rank too with the “Chipotle is my life” meme from years ago that still circulates. Also, if you follow the Wendy’s/Popeye’s roast tweets you can see that these food chains are connecting with clients by developing modern, cheeky personas. Gone are the days of strictly faceless corporate marketing strategies to tell clients what to buy. Strategies now include personable personas.

Kenneth Leung

It is all about the drop culture and also to generate the “instagram moment.” I don’t expect this to be a revenue generator as much as a hype generator to keep them in the spotlight. I am guessing those items will sell out quick from collectors and influencers.

Jasmine Glasheen

What’s cool about this is that Chipotle paired with a cosmetics brand offering products at a price point that will appeal to their customer base. So often, with these collaborations, we see retailers totally shoot for the stars in terms of product price point.

I’m also impressed that Chipotle partnered with a vegan cosmetic brand for this collab. One in five millennials have changed their diet to reduce their impact on the planet and Coronavirus lockdowns led to a surge in conscious consumption.

Low price points, attractive marketing, quirky product … what’s not to like?

Ryan Mathews

It’s a pure drop culture play at an affordable price point. Done right, drop culture is a huge opportunity.

Doug Garnett

Oof. I can’t imagine anything less interesting that suggesting to a date that you “put Chipotle on” for the date.

That said, it sounds like the packaging options are interesting — but the color options sure seem strange to me. Then again, I am not the customer they are looking for.

Matt Jones

This is a great collaboration between two brands with strong relevance to younger consumers … and the product is of high quality. The collaboration made good use of influencers too. Check out Trixie Mattel on YouTube.

Allison McGuire

Chipotle fans are fanatics and I can see how they would support a fun co-branded promotion like this. Plus, the products are very affordable reducing any barrier to buying a kitchy item. People will talk and post about it, so a great win win for both sides!

"We are in the early days of a co-marketing revolution, and I suspect the scope of the revolution will be very broad."

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