In retrospect, we should've seen this coming.
Earlier this week, the official Twitter account for Chipotle spent about an hour making some pretty odd tweets. "Find avocado store," read ond tweet. "Mittens13 password leave," read another. Here's a screencap of the strange tweets:
Shortly after, Chipotle tweeted out that they "had a little problem" with their account, but they've resolved the issue:
Sorry all. We had a little problem with our account. But everything is back on track now! - Joe
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) July 21, 2013
At first glance, it appeared like your typical Twitter hack - albeit a particularly innocuous one. Whoever supposedly hacked Chipotle's account didn't really take the opportunity to say anything damaging about the company or cause too much of a ruckus - nothing close to what we saw with the hacks of Jeep and Burger King back in February. Plus, Chipotle left the tweets up (it's common social media practice to delete any tweets that were sent out during a hack).
Anyway, the incident was funny and Chipotle seemed to play it off well. End of story, right?
Well, not really. Now Chipotle is coming clean - they faked the hack. It was just a publicity stunt. And you know what? I ain't even mad.
"We thought that people would pay attention, that it would cut through people's attention and make them talk, and it did that," Chris Arnold, a Chipotle representative, told Mashable. "It was definitely thought out: We didn't want it to be harmful or hateful or controversial."
The publicity stunt comes at a time that the restaurant chain is promoting their 20th anniversary. Earlier this month, they launched a three-week long online treasure hunt that they are calling "Adventurrito." It's a series of internet puzzles that eventually culminates in a bunch of prizes like free burritos for life.
Apparently, the fake hack helped Chipotle add over 4,000 followers that day, which is a lot considering they usually add about 250 new followers per day. All of the fake hack tweets have been retweeted thousands of time. For Chipotle, it's nothing but a win.
Feel free to disagree with me here, but I don't think we should be mad at Chipotle for this publicity stunt. That's because it was funny. It's that simple. Is it really that much different to pull a stunt like this to snag followers than to use promoted tweets, beg for followers, or *gasp*, buy them? This is better, I'll argue. Because it was funny.
And it doesn't reek of desperation and sadness like the MTV and BET fake Twitter hacks that they orchestrated shortly after the very real Burger King hack. I mean, they used hashtags like #MTVhack. Jesus Christ, people.
Yes, Chipotle did it right. The only drawback here is that more companies are going to be using the fake hack technique to generate buzz. I'll probably have a problem with it eventually - but as long as they remain generally funny, I think I can deal with it for a while.