Chipotle Founder and CEO Steve Ells liked a customer's idea to change its white, boring cups and bags to something more interesting. Frustrated at Chipotle without reading materials (or a smartphone?), Jonathan Safran Foer pitched the idea for getting writers to submit text. In a Vanity Fair article, Foer described his email to Ells:
"I said, ‘I bet a s***load of people go into your restaurants every day, and I bet some of them have very similar experiences, and even if they didn't have that negative experience, they could have a positive experience if they had access to some kind of interesting text,'" Foer recalled. "And unlike McDonald's, it's not like they're selling their surfaces to the highest bidder. They had nothing on their bags. So I said, ‘Wouldn't it be cool to just put some interesting stuff on it? Get really high-quality writers of different kinds, creating texts of different kinds that you just give to your customers as a service.'"
The project, called Cultivating Thought, has already garnered quite the list of celebrity authors, including Foer, who bills himself as curator. Foer authored Everything Is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Eating Animals.
- What do you think of the idea? As you can imagine, not everyone loves it.
- Why would Steve Ells be interested in this project? What does Chipotle-and possibly Ells personally-have to gain?