What's surprising about Chipotle’s new scarecrow-starring, Fiona Apple-soundtracked ad campaign (and video game) is just how little it says about Chipotle.

The company’s brand is all about standing above the fray of fast food competition, and they’ve consciously embraced that in their forays into traditional advertising.

Their first national TV ad was more like a Pixar version of Food Inc.: An animated farmer has an epiphany that his animals should be free-range and drug-free, while Willie Nelson croaks a Coldplay cover.

The latest ad follows in that same tradition of fact, fiction, and factory farms, but with a much heavier dose of fiction.

The protagonist of “The Scarecrow” rejects a factory farm that is part of a Terminator-like dystopia run by malicious robotic crows.

Instead of a triumphant conclusion as a Chipotle supplier, he starts a food stand with the tag-line “Cultivate a Better World.” Instead of 30 seconds of Chipotle, we get more like two.

The lack of Chipotle branding seems like a strange way to hawk a burrito. But it has its advantages.

For starters, it makes for a more compelling video game. It also allows for a more effective attack. After all, when the villain is fictional, you can villainize as much as you want.

2013-09-13

Co.Exist

Chipotle’s Brilliant New Anti-Factory Farm Ad, With Fiona Apple Singing Willy Wonka's "Pure Imagination"

Malicious robotic crows run the dystopian factory farm featured in the sustainable fast food chain's latest video campaign. It works because it's not about the brand at all.

An animated film promoting Chipotle as the ethical alternative to fast food is nothing new. They've been doing these for two years. But what is surprising about Chipotle’s new scarecrow-starring, Fiona Apple-soundtracked ad campaign (and video game) is just how little it says about Chipotle.

The company’s brand is all about standing above the fray of fast food competition, and they’ve consciously embraced that in their forays into traditional advertising. Their first national TV ad was more like a Pixar version of Food Inc.: An animated farmer has an epiphany that his animals should be free-range and drug-free, while Willie Nelson croaks a Coldplay cover. Only at the end of the two-minute narrative does the Chipotle truck arrive, signaling that it’s a pitch for their (mostly) “naturally raised” and antibiotic-free meats.

The latest ad follows in that same tradition of fact, fiction, and factory farms, but with a much heavier dose of fiction. The protagonist of “The Scarecrow” rejects a factory farm that is part of a Terminator-like dystopia run by malicious robotic crows. Instead of a triumphant conclusion as a Chipotle supplier, he starts a food stand with the tag-line “Cultivate a Better World.” Instead of 30 seconds of Chipotle, we get more like two.

The lack of Chipotle branding seems like a strange way to hawk a burrito. But it has its advantages. For starters, it makes for a more compelling video game. It also allows for a more effective attack. After all, when the villain is fictional, you can villainize as much as you want.

“This story is the story of the elaborate façade that’s been created by the industrial food producers in the world,” says Chipotle Chief Marketing Officer Mark Crupacker in a behind-the-scenes video.

And later: “As we produce food on very, very large scales on industrial farms and through heavily processed means, there’s a lot of negative consequences to that. Negative consequences to the animals, the environment, the farmers, and to public health."

The unstated message being: Unless you eat at Chipotle.

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3 Comments

  • Gladys Calderon

    This is a work of art and you should appreciate the message and yeah Chipotle obviously paid for it but your are missing the point of if and completely and totally being a hater.

  • flyguy

    Beautiful, but iO/s only apps? Wake the hell up Chipotle. You talk about choice but pander to an electronic apple? Make a choice for customers and at least offer one another platform for your game. iMyopic.

  • B1A

    Chipotle sources its pork from Niman Ranch, an aggregator of livestock from farms that agree to abide by certain standards (no hormones or antibiotics, for example). “It’s not necessarily the idyllic fantasy of a small farm,” says Marissa Guggiana, author of Primal Cuts: Cooking with America's Best Butchers and cofounder of the Butcher’s Guild. “But for a chain like Chipotle it’s excellent, really, compared to the meat being served in most fast-food chains.” 

    I couldn't find any info on where they actually source their beef and chicken from.

    Occasionally, some Chipotle restaurants do run out of meat that's been raised completely without antibiotics. In those cases, according to company policy, the restaurants may serve conventional meat, accompanied by a small sign informing consumers of this fact.

    Reading through their "Animals" page (http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/... they admit that all of their meat cannot always be sourced how they would like. Though they state their intentions and I think about Chipotle's growing demand and how it is probably influencing livestock farmers to convert to more ethical practices. That is assuming we can trust them to stick to their values which is really hard for me to do especially considering they are a publicly traded company. 

    So I don't seek to label Chipotle as good or evil but I wanted to learn more about what they are doing. I'm happy to hear that any fast food chain at all is making steps in this direction. You vote on what businesses should sell with your dollar.