In a brilliant move, Chipotle has taken one of the most clever approaches to criticizing “Big Food,” the companies and corporations responsible for factory farming. Factory farming, as many have come to realize, does not work in harmony with the ecosystem. Instead, it often involves artificial processes that negatively impact the world, and in turn the food that ends up on your table.
Since its start in 1993 (and through the time it was largely owned by McDonald’s), Chipotle Mexican Grill has prided itself on what they call “food with integrity.” That is, naturally raised meat, (some) organic produce, and animals that are treat with welfare instead of hormones and antibiotics. And since then it has worked to continue marketing itself as responsible food vendors, including sponsoring free screenings of the 2009 documentary Food, Inc., which heavily criticized the mainstream food establishment. And it’s been successful. Chipotle is growing, and its rivals are emulating its tactics.
So Chipotle has taken it one step further with an enormously creative, education tie-in project called “The Scarecrow.” The project has its own hub website, but is landmarked by a mobile video game and a short animated feature film. The film (above) is the real focal point because it’s composed beautifully. Capturing the feel of Tim Burton’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the short enlists a cover of “World of Imagination” (from the original, musical version of the film) by Fiona Apple to continue the air of irony and nightmare. Navigating through various unsightly images at an industrial food company, the titular Scarecrow finds himself starting an alternative food company that serves—get this—burritos.
But what makes this a truly brilliant marketing strategy is the integration of the Chipotle brand in the video game. Available for iOS, the game aims to educate players about the larger mission of the mexican fast food company. And, if you complete all four levels, you’ll earn yourself a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for participating Chipotles (most of them).
Below, a trailer for Food, Inc., the acclaimed documentary endorsed by Chipotle.
“Chipotle depicts the brutal automata of factory farming in animated short featuring Fiona Apple,” by Russell Brandom, The Verge