Cafe Society

Chipotle marketing: Life is pain -- so eat a burrito!

Hometown burrito hero Chipotle tends to launch quirky marketing campaigns that inspire strong reactions -- sometimes adoration, sometimes not.

But all we can say about the restaurant chain's latest gimmick -- emblazoning its takeaway bags with garbled Latin usually used as placeholder text and translating more or less into a dissertation on pain -- is a great big "Huh?"

We spotted the strange text (a larger version of which can be found below) during a recent burrito run and, intrigued, turned to the almighty Google to figure out what the hell it meant. Turns out the copy is well known in design and ad circles as text that's commonly used as stand-in copy in rough-draft design work when finished writing isn't yet ready for insertion. "Lorem ipsum," as the text is called, is a garbled, semi-Latin version of a 2,000-year-old treatise by the Roman philosopher Cicero that in English more or less goes like this:

Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

All of which leaves us as confused as ever as to why Chipotle would decide to stick this random text on every one of its paper bags -- and we aren't the only ones. Denveregotist declares, "No one gets it." A photo of the bag popped up on, a site that compiles examples of clumsy graphic design, along with the caption, "Chipotle continues to develop their expansion plans for Latin America." The marketing blog Free Association can only hypothesize, "Most likely, this was an error on the part of the graphic production team or the printer."

So we turned to Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold for the truth: Is Chipotle's lorem ipsum a super-cerebral ad campaign, or a massive production error?

"It's not an accident, no," says Arnold. "It's sort of an inside joke. That block of copy is standard issue for people in advertising and design. We thought it would be funny to leave it in and see what sort of reaction it drew."

We're obviously not among the Chipotle insiders, since we still don't get the joke -- or how it's going to help Chipotle sell foil-wrapped calorie bombs. Then again, we haven't launched a super-successful fast-casual restaurant chain nationwide, so what do we know? Maybe soon everybody will be spouting garbled Latin while sucking down big-ass burritos. Then it's all going to make sense.