In an Instagram debut like no other, Jeremy Jordan rocked Chipotle’s world.
The Supergirl star has leveled claims at the Mexican-inspired eatery that his last Chipotle meal sent him to the hospital and—in the star’s own words—nearly killed him. However, the evidence for Jordan’s claim has been scant, and Chipotle is pushing back.
On Thursday night, the Supergirl actor and Broadway star posted his first-ever Instagram story, dedicating it to be a PSA about why people shouldn’t go to Chipotle.
“I know I’ve advocated for them in the past, but they’re terrible,” says Jordan, who looks fairly pale laying in a hospital bed and showing viewers the IV in his arm. “I, as you can see, am in the hospital and I have fluids in my arm because the food did not agree with me and I almost died.”
The actor and singer has previously called out Chipotle for causing gastrointestinal distress. The performer has parodied the chain’s food, eventually endorsing the fast casual fare.
Jordan’s latest post has significant implications.
“I just want to thank my wife for being amazing and talking me off the ledge when I was on the phone about to die and Chris Wood for holding my hair back metaphorically,” he says. “I love all of you; thank you so much. It’s been a night.”
Chipotle sent the magazine a response after it published Jordan’s claims.
Chipotle has responded to Jordan’s claims with the following statement to PEOPLE: “We are sorry to hear that Jeremy is sick and have attempted to get in touch with him directly regarding where and when he ate so we can look into this. We take all claims seriously, but at this time we can’t confirm any link to Chipotle. We are always committed to making things right for our guests and will do the same for Jeremy when we are able to reach him.”
Chipotle also emailed other media outlets, denying knowledge of other sick diners.
“There have been no other reported claims of illness at the restaurant where (Jordan) dined. We take all claims seriously, but we can’t confirm any link to Chipotle, given the details he shared with us,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said via email.
Experts say the claim could become a reputational nightmare for the burrito chain.
“If this is true then it is another potential PR disaster for Chipotle,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, told CNBC via email. “The chain has had a run of back luck with health scares and does not seem to be capable of getting back on an even keel. Each new issue reminds consumers of past problems and makes the prospect of a full recovery ever more distant.”
Chipotle worked hard to follow up on the actor’s claim and provide facts to counter Jordan’s allegations, only to watch its stock tumble.
The celebrity’s complaint sent Chipotle shares tumbling in early trading on Monday, extending a rout this year. Chipotle’s denial of a link prompted a brief recovery for the stock, but the rebound was quickly erased in regular trading.
The shares fell as much as 5.9 percent to $263, bringing them to the lowest level in almost five years. They had already declined 26 percent in 2017 through the end of last week.
Chipotle is susceptible to such claims because of a series of incidents involving food safety and consumer illnesses last year. Hence the plunge in its share prices.
Nick Setyan, analyst for Wedbush Securities, said that Jordan’s Instagram post was definitely the cause tor the drop in stock price, even if the company wasn’t actually to blame.
“It is 100% the reason why it is down today,” said Setyan, senior vice president of equity research, in an email to CNNMoney. “Unfortunately, Chipotle is exposed to these types of unsubstantiated claims for the foreseeable future.”
Chipotle pushed back against the actor’s claims that he had fallen ill because of a Chipotle meal; it provided information about the specific restaurant where Jordan had dined.
The company said on Monday morning that it had reached the actor to determine where and when he ate, [Quinn Kelsey, a spokeswoman for the Denver-based company] said.
“We were able to confirm that there were no reports of illness, all employees were healthy, and that all food protocols were followed and logged,” she said. “We take all claims seriously, but we can’t confirm any link to Chipotle given the details he shared with us.”
Some have remarked that Chipotle seems bulletproof:
Chipotle is an immortal food chain. This has to be the 183629 time they try to bring them down.😂 Long live the burrito king 👹💀💩
— Javi Francisco (@chimiPRsev) November 14, 2017
Others found Chipotle’s string of PR debacles to be a strong argument against continuing to support the fast casual restaurant.
Between sick people and numerous data breaches, why again are you still eating there?
— Benjamin Nicholas (@BNicholas) November 14, 2017
Others have expressed skepticism over Jordan’s claim to have “almost died.”
.@JeremyMJordan That’s about to be the most expensive Chipotle meal you’ve ever had, Jeremy. I’d sue the living shit out of you if I were Chipotle counsel. “Almost died?” Give me a break bro. Hope you lawyer’d up!
— Phil Trowbridge (@phil_trowbridge) November 13, 2017
Here are three takeaways from Jordan’s assertion and Chipotle’s response:
1. Respond to a crisis with information.
Chipotle did its best to reclaim authority by providing new information to reporters. Company reps went to the restaurant where Jordan reportedly dined to check whether others had taken ill and whether a staffer could have passed along an illness. In sharing findings, the company strove to be a serious source for reporters. Jordan, having said his piece, did not comment further, and his side of the story has lost traction in media reporting.
2. Social media is an accelerant.
An Instagram stories post, the video tool in the photo-sharing platform, was enough to send Chipotle’s stock reeling. Any such claim by a consumer can be damaging, but given a celebrity’s expansive audience, the real-world impact of this particular post is outsized and unmistakable. As Snapchat and its competitors drive this kind of social sharing, businesses should be prepared to respond to potentially devastating online posts.
3. A reputation lost is not easily rebuilt.
Chipotle is especially susceptible to consumer complaints because of its recent history with food health and safety. In the past, if people quipped that Chipotle’s food disagreed with them, it might have been seen as humorous or entertaining, but stockholders took no notice. Now, anytime a public figure claims Chipotle sickened them, the restaurant chain is going to take a hit.
What would you have done differently, PR Daily readers? Has Chipotle exhausted its crisis communications options?