The restaurant chain Chipotle released a three-minute animated video Thursday called “The Scarecrow,” in which the title character grows appalled by the quality-compromising tactics employed by the food industry. Eventually the scarecrow goes guerrilla and starts his own taco stand, replete with farm-fresh ingredients.
“This is all part of a larger marketing strategy that depends in part on the idea of essentially never doing television ads,” Matthew Yglesias blogged Thursday for Slate. “Both the theme of this video — Chipotle's message that it represents a superior alternative to conventional factory farming — and the lack of television advertising are designed to position the chain as a highbrow and upscale alternative to other quick service restaurants.
"Then when a video does come out, it's high-quality high-impact stuff that really gets attention and is designed to be memorable.”
The video also promotes a new arcade-style game called The Scarecrow that is available as a free app for iPhone and iPad users.
“The game encourages players to ‘tilt and tap your way through four unique worlds to protect vulnerable veggies, rescue caged animals, and bring fresh food to the citizens of Plenty, all while dodging the menacing Crowbots,’ ” Eliza Barclay wrote for NPR. “… The game is, of course, fictional … but the aspiration is clear: Chipotle and its customers are coming for you, Big Food.”
The release of Chipotle’s same-named video and game are far from the end of the restaurant’s non-traditional marketing blitz. To that end, on Friday morning USA Today’s Bruce Horovitz reported, “The move precedes a series of four, TV show-length Big-Food-busting dark comedies, ‘Farmed and Dangerous,’ that Chipotle will post online sometime in 2014.
“For Chipotle, it's all about linking its name with the strong Millennial values to eat better, eat local — and brand lightly. It's all in the hopes that Millennials — who are the heart of Chipotle's target customer — will make Chipotle's better-for-you messaging go viral.”