Chipotle: A brand finds its voice

September 17, 2013

Chipotle Mexican Grill has released a new ad to promote a free iOS game in the form of a short film entitled "The Scarecrow."

Chipotle Mexican Grill has released a new ad to promote a free iOS game in the form of a short film entitled "The Scarecrow." The animated film follows a living scarecrow that becomes employed by an industrial food producer, "Crow Foods Incorporated." The scarecrow is dismayed by the practices employed by Crow Foods and is emboldened to take a stand and do his part to "cultivate a better world." The stop-motion-like animation style to the tune of a cover of Willy Wonka's "Pure Imagination" by Fiona Apple, draws you in by evoking an altogether eerie storytelling experience.

While the video is promoting Chipotle's game, the video is promoting what Chipotle stands for and its vision for a sustainable food model. In a behind the scenes commentary about the film, Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle's CMO says "Chipotle's on a mission to change the way the world thinks about and eats fast food." Crumpacker explains that the film captures the "story of the elaborate façade that's been created by the industrial food producers in the world. They've done a very good job of painting a very rosy picture of their industry." And Chipotle is effectively changing the conversation by encouraging consumers to consider where they get their food.

The film's overall message is very much in line with the brand's previous ad, which was televised during the Grammy's in 2012, but the captivating nature of the animation style is a significant departure from any other advertising or communications pieces we commonly see in the fast food industry. The brand is standing up for something and telling consumers that it has a vision for a better world. Chipotle seems to be better known for its product than for its advertising and it's unclear how many of its loyal customers credit the brand for the quality of its ingredients rather than the taste of its burritos. Even if the brand's logo is only shown at the sign-off of the film, this ad will likely help the brand continue to get out its message.

Also, putting a stake in the ground like this can also be a powerful rallying cry for employees. It would be interesting to learn whether this external communications is being coupled with an internal component to get people within the organization excited as well. Regardless, for the viewers of this film, whether it's the casual gourmet burrito eater or a new employees, Chipotle is making it very clear what it supports.

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