If you were playing around with Twitter on Sunday, chances are you saw what appeared to be Chipotle’s bizarre and unpredictable social media meltdown:

Chipotle Staged its Twitter Hack

Twitter.

It turns out the company staged the supposed “hacking” as part of a viral marketing gimmick meant to promote its 20th anniversary promotional campaign.

“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 Mashable report explains the idea behind the gimmick:

Chipotle is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a 20-day long treasure hunt called “Adventurito,” which features 20 days of puzzles. Most of the tweets posted were fragments about ingredients, which Arnold said was intended to tie into Sunday’s puzzle about the ingredients Chipotle uses to make guacamole.

“We thought that it really fit well within the context of our 20th anniversary promotion where we were putting clues in all sorts of things,” Arnold said.

“We had clues pop up in a lot of places and thought that incorporating something into our social media presence would fit well into that promotion.”

And it wasn’t a bad move. The seemingly meaningless and strange tweets added roughly 4,000 followers to the popular restaurant’s twitter account. Compare that to the company’s normal rate of 250 followers added per day and it’s probably safe to say the “hacking” ploy worked.

“The supposedly hacked tweets, which have not been deleted, were retweeted about 12,000 times,” the Mashable report adds. “By comparison, Chipotle’s Twitter account usually sees about 75 retweets per day.”

Arnold says the company has no plans to fake a hacking any time soon.

“It’s certainly not a well you can go too often,” he said, adding that the reaction to the stunt was “overwhelmingly positive.”

Other companies, including MTV and BET, have staged similar “hacking” events.

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