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3 Food Brands Cooking Up Amazing Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Let's dig into the brilliant influencer marketing strategies behind Chipotle, Poppi, and Hero Bread.
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In our digital age, social media is the first place people go to when they’re looking for food inspiration, whether it’s to dine out at a restaurant or to try out a new recipe at home. In fact, 82% of millennials say they look online to plan their next meal. It’s no surprise that the hashtag #food has 527 million posts on Instagram, 41 million posts on TikTok, and 51 billion views on YouTube. 

Because food content and social media go hand in hand, food and beverage brands are getting their products in front of the highly-engaged online “foodie” community by partnering with social media influencers.

In this 3-part series, we’re exploring influencer marketing strategies for food and beverage brands. In Part 1, we outlined 4 influencer marketing best practices that all brands in this space need to know.

Now, in Part 2, we’ll be digging into the brilliant influencer marketing strategies behind Chipotle, Poppi, and Hero Bread. 


We can’t talk about food brands crushing influencer marketing without spotlighting Chipotle. 

The restaurant chain truly honed in on influencer marketing in 2018, when Chris Brandt, former CMO at Taco Bell, stepped in as Chipotle’s chief brand officer. Since then, Chipotle has run several buzzworthy campaigns that have allowed the brand’s revenue to consistently grow, with the chain reporting a total revenue of $2.7 billion in the first quarter of 2024 — a 14.1% increase year-over-year.

In a recent interview, Brandt discusses the ins and outs of Chipotle’s influencer marketing strategy, which includes two key components: 

Finding true Chipotle fans 

When searching for influencers to work with, the brand’s first criteria is that they’re already a Chipotle fan. In the interview, Brandt dishes on this strategy, stating, “A lot of people we work with have talked about Chipotle already, and that’s how we find them. I don’t have any interest in trying to convince somebody who’s not a Chipotle person to be a Chipotle person.” 

This was the idea behind the brand’s #ChipotleSponsorMe TikTok challenge from 2020, in which five winners received a Chipotle celebrity card, resulting in thousands of pieces of UGC and engagements.

@drew.bouman I spent my whole weekend on this don’t let it flop. @chipotle @daviddobrik #ChipotleSponsorMe #contest #foryou #mycrib ♬ original sound - drew.bouman

Being part of the cultural zeitgeist

On top of finding true brand fans, Chipotle carefully listens to what they’re talking about to find opportunities to jump in on trends and stay culturally relevant. 

For example, Chipotle launched official menu items in partnership with creators Alexis Frost (2.5 million followers) and Keith Lee (16 million followers) after their Chipotle “recipes” went viral on TikTok. 

@keith_lee125 #stitch with @alexis.frost “Philly cheesesteak” from Chipotle taste test 💕 Chipotle Sauce hack 👉🏾 @hasaneats 💕 would you try it ? #foodcritic ♬ original sound - Keith Lee

Upon launching, the new menu items doubled Chipotle’s entire quesadilla business, creating 2 of Chipotle's top digital sales days of all time. Chipotle Rewards Enrollment also increased by 37% week-over-week at launch, and the campaign garnered a whopping 34 million social impressions, 3.7 million social engagements, and 4.5 billion PR impressions.

The brand ensures that its influencer program works in tandem with its broader marketing strategy, which includes TV advertising, organic social, its loyalty program, and more, and the team is constantly testing each channel to see what brings the best return. “But it’s important to understand that influencers are going to be part of that mix, and they’re here to stay,” says Brandt. 


Poppi, Gen Z’s favorite beverage brand, is redefining not only the soda market, but also influencer marketing strategies for high-growth brands. Co-founder Allison Ellsworth noted that Poppi has posted triple-digit growth in recent years — a goal it expects to reach again in 2024. Ellsworth also shared that Poppi has strong customer repeat rates of over 40%.

So, what’s their secret? 

Investing in macro-influencers

While working with smaller creators has its perks, Poppi also knows the benefits of investing in a partnership with a macro-influencer. 

In fact, for Coachella 2024, the beverage brand exclusively partnered with TikTok’s “It Girl,” Alix Earle (6.6M followers), housing her and her group of friends in the “CoachEARLEa” mansion decked out in Poppi’s latest lemon-lime branding and merch. Needless to say, Poppi was featured prominently in the background of each of their photos and videos. 

@alixearle Welcome to Casa Poppi #coachearlea 🍋🍋‍🟩 @Ashtin Earle @kristin konefal @sallycarden @zz @patrick ta ♬ TiK ToK - Kesha

By providing Alix and her friends with a hyper-personalized brand experience, Poppi was able to reap the benefits of the “Alix Earle effect” — namely, her organic branded content which generated over 4.5 million engagements and reached over 275 million people.

Evolving into a lifestyle brand

While Poppi is a beverage brand, it’s slowly being integrated into the daily lives of content creators and their followers through its vibrant Poppi sweatsuits. 

Initially introduced in early 2022 with a bright blue set, Poppi has distributed hundreds of sweatsuits to influencers on TikTok and Instagram, aiming to broaden its audience without relying on typical product placements. The sweatsuits have proven to play a critical role in its influencer marketing strategy because “merch lives forever,” according to Sophia Sesto, director of brand awareness and culture at Poppi. 

More recently, Poppi sent pink sweatsuits to influencers, many of whom showcased the attire in various unrelated videos, extending the brand’s visibility. Alix Earle also wore her custom green Poppi sweatpants from “CoachEARLEa” in a podcast video, offering the brand additional exposure without a contractual obligation to do so. This strategy has resulted in widespread recognition, driving store visits to purchase Poppi products. 


Like actually stayed with 5 strangers .. full story at midnight ET!!!👀

♬ original sound - Hot Mess with Alix Earle

Now, Poppi’s sweatsuits have gained popularity among everyday consumers, who frequently ask how to obtain them. In response to this demand, Poppi reserves sweatsuits for social media giveaways to engage its loyal community. 

Hero Bread

Hero Bread — backed by high-profile investors like Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, and The Weeknd — is making a huge splash in the health food market, recently launching its flagship low-carb bread alternative in stores nationwide. The brand has always been a staple within the tight-knit keto community since launching, but to expand its market share beyond niche health shoppers, Hero Bread enlisted the help of Aspire’s Agency Services team.

With the help of our team, Hero Bread achieved some pretty astounding results, including 2x increase in ROAS, 8% increase in AOV, and over 1.2K conversions from just one campaign. 

To generate these results, Hero Bread worked with our Agency team, who provided strategic expertise paired with our end-to-end influencer marketing technology, to ensure that their program would drive not only top-of-funnel impact, but also bottom-of-funnel conversions. 

Here are the strategies the team implemented.

Forging relationships with true brand fans

Using Aspire’s Creator Marketplace and Social Listening feature, Hero Bread quickly connected with creators who are already big fans of the brand and can tell Hero’s story authentically. This genuine relationship resulted in high-quality video content — such as this delicious recipe by macro-influencer Sonya Esman — that directly translated to high engagement and conversions.

Activating affiliate links to drive attributable sales

In the past, Hero Bread found it difficult to scale their affiliate program, as it was complicated to create and attribute promo codes and links. Inevitably, the brand wasn’t seeing great results for the amount of time and money they were investing into the program.  However, with Aspire’s seamless affiliate tracking tools, the team was able to launch an affiliate campaign that drove over 1.2K conversions. 

Leveraging IGC for paid ads

Hero Bread asked each creator to submit raw files of their content, which could be edited by the team and optimized for paid placements. By curating influencer content for their paid channel, Hero Bread was able to provide social proof in their ad creative — ultimately doubling the brand’s ROAS. 

To learn more about Hero Bread’s winning strategies, check out our full customer feature here

Be sure to check out Part 3 of this blog series, where we'll tell you everything you need to know about working with "foodie" influencers.

Learn how more leading brands are driving ROI through influencer marketing in our guide, The Secret to Efficient Growth. 

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